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number of parents who had communicated with the Office of Admissions requesting that their child’s application be withdrawn; the student whose parent requested she be withdrawn from your class; the donor who withdrew his support to the Department of History … ” Dean Heather Coltman wrote in James Tracy’s file in early January.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