A far-right official in Georgia’s Department of Education blamed the failures in the American education system not on funding or standardized tests, but on the presence of people of color and those identifying as gay in public schools. Less than a day after his words were brought to light, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that he lost his job.
The brother of Republican Senator Jason Spencer, Jeremy Spencer served as the Associate Superintendent of Virtual Instruction. He was in charge of Georgia’s online schools, but his own digital footprint caused concern. While holding the position, he posted and shared messages discriminating against race, religion, nationality, and sexuality amongst his endorsements for Republicans Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
One post raising flags says, “If I read one more thing the Finland educational system….not everybody in the US public schools are WHITE!” Spencer’s statuses and page description clearly say who he is, and he occasionally addresses his fellow colleagues, according to the AJC. In addition, his judgment on controlling comments came into question, as those following his page leave similarly offensive remarks without the repercussions of deletion. One follower responded to an Anti-Muslim and Anti-Obama post by Spencer with a picture of a lynching and “Only one way to solve the problem: Impeach and ……..”
Sources directed the AJC’s Get Schooled blogger, Maureen Downey, to Spencer’s social media and her exposé gained the attention of readers like advocacy group Better Georgia, school administration, and government officials. All pushed State School Superintendent Richard Woods to terminate Spencer from his position. “[Woods] needs to fire Spencer today,” a Democratic senator from Georgia, Vincent Fort, told Downey, “Let’s get this chapter over quickly because it is hurtful, hurtful, hurtful. If this is extended for days or weeks or months, we are going to do great injury to this state.”
Since the posts were revealed to the Department of Education, Spencer’s page no longer exists. And thanks to advocacy, neither does his employment. A post on the Better Georgia website reads, “Because of your action, Superintendent Richard Woods backed off of his original statement that it would take two weeks to investigate. Instead, he did the right thing by taking swift action and letting Georgians know that hate speech will not be tolerated.” Woods announced Spencer’s departure in a statement. Not even 24 hours had passed since Downey’s blog post.
Technically, the state superintendent never fired Spencer. Though Woods agreed with the outrage over the posts, department policies forbade him from directly firing Spencer in such a short amount of time, a spokesperson told the AJC. Instead, Spencer resigned Tuesday morning (Jan. 26) with recommendation from Woods who said, “My job, and the job of all employees at the Department of Education, is to look out for the educational well-being of all of Georgia’s 1.7 million students, and more than 100,000 teachers and educators.”