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Winthrop professor allowed to teach after review of threatening anti-racist Facebook post

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Winthrop University (copy)

Winthrop University. File/provided

Winthrop University decided to hire an education professor whose pending employment was called into question last month following a social media post containing threats to out teachers who express anti-Black, pro-police sentiments. 

The new professor, April Mustian, has been allowed to teach classes at Winthrop, a public Rock Hill liberal arts college, after a review by university administration.

"We have moved forward and she’s on board and hopefully getting settled," said Glenn McCall, president of Winthrop's Board of Trustees.

Mustian came under fire when a Facebook post she wrote in June caught the eye of online conservative groups. A story about her post appeared on a conservative youth advocacy site. Winthrop was inundated with complaints, which sparked an internal investigation that the school acknowledged in a Twitter post.

McCall said he is pleased with university President George Hynd's handling of the matter.

A Winthrop spokeswoman declined to comment, saying the school does not comment on personnel matters. Mustian did not respond to several emails.

In the since-deleted social media post in question, Mustian wrote: “If you are a White K-12 teacher who teaches Black children and you are on your (Facebook) posting pro-police anti-Black rhetoric, I hope and pray those are posts and beliefs you are willing to stand by in front of the Black families you are also supposed to love and serve."

“Don’t think you are above reproach, especially in this day and age when opportunities to unlearn racism and bias are at your fingertips,” she added.

Mustian continued with thinly veiled threats to send copies of such social media post to school administrators, saying, "If your first thought is to delete me because of this post, chances are I already have some screenshots."

Winthrop alumni and students took to social media, largely in defense of Mustian. A change.org online petition calling on the university not to fire her garnered more than 2,000 signatures.

"Personally, I think the fact that her teaching career at Winthrop was even called into question is ridiculous," said Savannah Stinson, a Winthrop student. "She didn’t say anything controversial, she wasn’t being political. She was literally being a decent human being."

Stinson said she thinks, if not for the online petition the situation could have ended differently.

"Winthrop has a good percentage of Black and Brown students, they should absolutely do better to make them feel valued and welcome, especially during these times," she said. "It’s extremely frustrating to be a Black student at a school that doesn’t seem to support you like they claim to."

Not all comments made on the university's social media pages following the announcement of Mustian's employment review were supportive.

"Yet you'll hire professors who openly support doxxing anybody who supports police officers and trying to get them fired? This kind of garbage makes me ashamed to be a College of Education Alum," a Winthrop graduate wrote on Facebook.

Mustian is far from the only worker in the Palmetto State to recently face professional blowback from a social media post. Amid protests over the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police, at least a handful of South Carolinians, from a court clerk to a hospital employee, have lost jobs over racially charged social media posts.

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