Professor's 'Game of Thrones' punishment rescinded
PARAMUS, N.J. (AP) - A New Jersey professor suspended after he posted an online photo containing a quote from "Game of Thrones" has had his punishment rescinded by the college.
Francis Schmidt, who teaches art and animation at Bergen County Community College, said he was suspended for 11 days after posting a photo in January of his 7-year-old daughter wearing a T-shirt with a quote from the graphic HBO show that read: "I will take what is mine with fire and blood."
Patti Bonomolo, the school's director of human resources, said in a letter sent to Schmidt Sept. 29 that the school "may have lacked basis to sanction you" for the Google Plus social media post and that the punishment might have violated his constitutional rights.
The letter was published online by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, an organization that set Schmidt up with an attorney to handle the matter. School spokesman Larry Hlavenka Jr. on Thursday confirmed its authenticity.
"Rather than participating in protracted discourse resulting in an extended period of legal fees, a compromise definitively closes this matter - treating it as if it never occurred," Hlavenka Jr. said in a statement.
Schmidt, 47, said that he believes the suspension over the T-shirt was to punish him over a grievance he filed after requesting to take a sabbatical.
He had also been forced to consult a school-appointed psychiatrist as one of the conditions of being reinstated with back pay and said he was ordered not to talk publicly about the case.
"It's a hard fought letter, it doesn't remove any blemish, the only thing is does is it gives me back my first amendment rights, which the school took away from me," he said.
The letter said that the penalties against Schmidt are rescinded and won't be considered against him in any other decisions concerning his employment.
Schmidt said that school officials questioned whether the reference was meant as a threat against a dean, who was one of the people who viewed the post on Schmidt's Google Plus feed.
The hit television series is based on the books by Bayonne, New Jersey-born fantasy writer George R.R. Martin.