The administration of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton has begun a process to fire a faculty member who has promulgated conspiracy theories about the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre and other recent American tragedies.
According to the Sun-Sentinel of Florida, the university’s action against tenured associate communications professor James Tracy began following the December 10 publication of an oped by Lenny and Veronique Pozner, whose six-year-old son Noah was killed in the gun attack by Adam Lanza at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
The Pozners, who have been among the most vocal of Sandy Hook’s bereaved parents, wrote about the anguish they suffer due to continued harassment by conspiracy theorists who deny the attack happened, claiming that it was staged and that the parents of the murdered children were government agents who have gained financially from the event.
“Although many of these tormentors persecute us behind anonymous online identities, some do so openly and even proffer their professional credentials in an attempt to lend credence to their allegations. In this piece we want to focus on someone who is chief among the conspiracy theorists — Florida Atlantic University Professor James Tracy,” they wrote.
According to the Pozners, Tracy sent them a certified letter demanding they supply proof that Noah actually lived, that they were his parents, and that they own the rights to his photographic image. When the Pozners refused to answer him and filed a police report for harassment, Tracy reportedly continued to ridicule them on his blog, “Memory Hole.”
The parents, who shared a photo of Noah lighting Hanukkah candles taken the night before he died with a Connecticut panel on gun control shortly after the attack, wrote that they are particularly aggrieved by the fact that Tracy and other conspiracy theorists are using their son’s image in their publications.
The university reprimanded Tracy in early 2013 after he failed to make clear that his views did not represent those of the university.
Since that time, Tracy has gone on to claim that other tragedies, such as the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the recent shootings in San Bernadino, California were also hoaxes.
The university issued a statement on Wednesday its vice provost for academic affairs served Tracy a “Notice of Proposed Discipline—Termination.” In accordance with the university’s collective bargaining agreement with the United Faculty of Florida union, Tracy has 10 days to respond to the notice, after which final action may be taken.
Tracy has reportedly not issued any comment.
“Veronique and I are relieved that truth and honor prevailed,” expressed Lenny Pozner in a statement released Tuesday evening.