News Channel 3 Memphis

Suspended Cordova High School Principal Files Lawsuit Against District

February 26, 2021

(News Channel 3 Memphis)—A Shelby County School principal is suing the district after his suspension last month.

Barton Thorne of Cordova High School was placed on paid administrative leave after comments he made over the district’s virtual learning platform. The audio of Thorne’s remarks, which lasts a little more than nine minutes long, was obtained by WREG-TV.

While Throne was critical of the riots at the Capitol, he objected to actions taken by several social media platforms.

“It’s what’s going on with Twitter and Facebook and Google and Apple, and their decision as private companies to filter and to decide what you, you hear and know about,” Throne said in the recording.

Thorne stressed his comments weren’t about President Trump, but more so about freedom of speech.

“Because there have been times even in American history where a small group of people decided what you could hear. You think about ‘McCarthyism.’ If you don’t know about that, you can Google that or talk to your Social Studies teacher,” Thorne said in the recording.

Since then he has retained legal counsel from the Liberty Justice Center.

“As a career educator in a very diverse community, I have prided myself on fostering a school environment that is open-minded, accepting and welcoming everyone who comes through our doors. It’s shocking and disappointing that I was removed from my job for speaking with students about the First Amendment,” Thorne said in a released statement. “I’m taking action because I meant what I said: Free speech is critically important and is under threat. I will not allow myself to be silenced any more than I would allow a student to be marginalized for sharing a perfectly reasonable point of view. The ‘cancel culture’ taking foot in America has now reached our schools, and I will not stand for it.”

Thorne and the National Public Interest Law Firm filed a federal lawsuit against the district. They claim that his rights were violated and that the school system has refused to say when Thorne can return to work.