James Tracy, a Florida Atlantic University professor who said that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was staged, has been given a notice of termination, the university said in a statement Wednesday. The FAU did not specify the reason for its decision, only citing the "university practice regarding personal issues."
“In accordance with the University’s Collective Bargaining Agreement with the United Faculty of Florida union, by which the University and James Tracy are bound, faculty who receive such notice are afforded a grievance process. James Tracy has 10 days to respond to the notice after which final action may be taken,” the university said.
Tracy has written several conspiracy theories on mass shootings in the United States on his personal blog Memory Hole. However, local newspaper Sun-Sentinel reported that the university’s decision came less than a week after parents of a student who died in the 2012 massacre alleged Tracy of harassing them.
“Tracy is among those who have personally sought to cause our family pain and anguish by publicly demonizing our attempts to keep cherished photos of our slain son from falling into the hands of conspiracy theorists,” Veronique and Lenny Pozner, the parents of the 6-year-old, wrote in a Dec. 10 opinion piece in the Sun-Sentinel ahead of the third anniversary of the shooting.
The Pozners also said that Tracy sent them a letter demanding proof that their son Noah once lived, and that they were his parents and the rightful owner of his photo. “Once Tracy realized we would not respond, he subjected us to ridicule and contempt on his blog, boasting to his readers that the ‘unfulfilled request’ was ‘noteworthy’ because we had used copyright claims to 'thwart continued research of the Sandy Hook massacre event,'” they wrote.
After the December 2012 Sandy Hook shooting that killed 20 students and six adults, Tracy suggested on the Memory Hole blog that the shooting was staged and a complete hoax. The Sandy Hook conspiracy theory is part of a larger, underground and online movement of modern conspiracy theorists known as “Sandy Hook truthers.” The truthers, along with other government conspiracy theorists, believe that all or most national tragedies are carried out by government to cause fear among public in order to gain or maintain control over large segments of the population.
“In a geographically vast country where imagery and emotion reign supreme, where fact is often replaced by unsubstantiated claims and hearsay, the eventual result will likely involve mass fraud leading to a severe loss of our freedoms, perhaps eventual tyranny,” Tracy wrote on his blog Monday.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, the FAU had warned Tracy in 2013, soon after he claimed on his personal blog that the Sandy Hook massacre was staged. The university at the time said that he did not make it clear that his personal views in the post were not representative of the university.