James Tracy, fired FAU professor, complained of ‘harassment’ for views


For years, former FAU professor James Tracy endured “harassment” and his university colleagues “embarrassment” over his claims that the Sandy Hook massacre and similar events may have been staged, according to his personnel file, which the university released this week.

The 700-page file includes letters and emails exchanged between Tracy and his superiors detailing “bullying” by colleagues, donors threatening to withdraw promised funding and concerned parents pulling students from the university because of Tracy, a tenured professor whom Florida Atlantic University fired Jan. 8.

The tension began in early 2013, following Tracy’s first public statement on his Memory Hole blog — which is unaffiliated with the university — claiming the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Conn., may have been staged. A gunman had fatally shot 20 children and six adults at the school on Dec. 14, 2012.

In 2013, a university employee placed copies of an April 28 commentary published in the South Florida Sun Sentinel titled “Why James Tracy should resign” in the mailboxes of all the professors in his department. The piece was written by three fellow Florida Atlantic professors in the departments of sociology, history and political science.

The dean of the College of Arts and Letters, for which Tracy taught since 2002, claimed a donor withdrew promised funding for the Department of History following Tracy’s claims, according to the file.

Tracy emailed his superiors asking for disciplinary action against whoever distributed the article and “targeted” him, the personnel file details.

Later that year, a representative from the faculty union sent a letter to the dean saying several donors threatened to cut off funding unless Tracy was dismissed.

The professor claimed applicants withdrew and “fellow faculty were embarrassed” because of Tracy’s statements, the letter reads.

“We let you know of the large number of parents who had communicated with the Office of Admissions requesting that their child’s application be withdrawn; the student whose parent requested she be withdrawn from your class; the donor who withdrew his support to the Department of History … ” Dean Heather Coltman wrote in James Tracy’s file in early January.

Several people, without any apparent connection to the university, sent letters to the department director calling for Tracy’s dismissal. The letters were collected and included in Tracy’s personnel file.

“The credibility of your entire university is at stake,” wrote one man in 2013. “No he is not just an individual speaking, he represents the quality of your faculty.”

Despite the scrutiny, Tracy’s job was safe. He was given a written reprimand which was later repealed. After the first media storm passed, Tracy went on to theorize on his blog about other mass-casualty incidents, such as the Boston Marathon bombing and the San Bernardino shooting.

Tracy was fired in January for failing to disclose outside activities to the university, the records say. Tracy wrote a chapter in a free e-book titled “Nobody Died at Sandy Hook” by James Fetzer, but failed to failed to disclose it to the university, his superiors claimed.

What Tracy described as harassment continued into 2015, according to emails in the personnel file. Tracy claimed he was being excluded from department-wide memos. He sent an email to his entire department in April 2015 condemning the mistreatment.

“Workplace harassment, bullying, and ‘mobbing,’ all of which are forbidden by university policy, not to mention broader civil and criminal codes, are entirely unacceptable,” Tracy wrote.

Following his termination, Tracy hired attorney Louis Leo IV of Medgebow Law in Coconut Creek after firing his faculty union-funded lawyer. He told The Post in January that he plans to take legal action against the university.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

LOOK: Rescuers help stranded dolphin in Florida Keys
LOOK: Rescuers help stranded dolphin in Florida Keys

A female dolphin stranded near the shores of Sugarloaf Key was helped by a group of rescuers on Saturday. A homeowner making repairs to his window broken after Hurricane Irma spotted the dolphin near his home around 11 a.m. He called the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, and soon a group of people were helping to return the slightly burned female...
Melania Trump meets Prince Harry on first solo trip abroad as first lady
Melania Trump meets Prince Harry on first solo trip abroad as first lady

Melania Trump has completed her first solo duty as first lady outside of the United States, participating in a meeting with Prince Harry ahead of the Invictus Games - the multi-sport international event Harry created for wounded, injured or sick armed services members, and leading the U.S. delegation for the Games. On Saturday, the first...
NEW: Five displaced after Lake Worth apartment catches on fire
NEW: Five displaced after Lake Worth apartment catches on fire

The Red Cross is helping to find shelter for five people who were displaced after their Lake Worth apartment caught on fire. Palm Beach Fire Rescue responded to the fire around 6 a.m. today in the 700 block of North A Street. Crews located a fire in a front bedroom and extinguished it before it could damage surrounding apartments. No one was reported...
POST TIME: The Norleys, Part III: Two deaths and a return to school
POST TIME: The Norleys, Part III: Two deaths and a return to school

(Originally published March 17, 2016) Readers: This is the last of a three-parter on the Norleys; it’s a family story of tragedy and triumph. Dolores and Theodore “Skeeter” Norley already had dealt with their first son, Greg, being born with developmental challenges, and another son, David, vanishing at sea at age 16. The fates weren&rsquo...
POST TIME: The Norleys, Part II: A brave stand and a tragic vanishing
POST TIME: The Norleys, Part II: A brave stand and a tragic vanishing

(Originally published March 10, 2016) Readers: Last week we began telling the life story of Dolores Norley. Husband Theodore “Skeeter” Norley — many of his patients just called him “Doctor T” — had been just the second orthopedic surgeon in Palm Beach County. But he clashed with the establishment. He refused to treat...
More Stories