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Evidence absolutely shows rural Idaho school bus driver fired for exercising free speech

Evidence absolutely shows rural Idaho school bus driver fired for exercising free speech

Wayne Hoffman
June 6, 2023

The evidence is clear that rural Idaho bus driver Dakota Mailloux was fired from his job with the Kellogg School District because he attended a protest in support of student Travis Lohr’s comments at a student assembly. 

By now, people around the country have heard about what the district did to Lohr and Mailloux. Lohr, 18, was set to graduate high school last week when the principal told him he was suspended and banned from taking part in the graduation ceremony because he told a school assembly that “guys are guys and girls are girls; there is no in between.” 

After news spread of the school’s decision, residents organized a protest of the school’s actions, which Mailloux attended. He was not on the clock, and he was merely exercising his First Amendment right to speech and assembly. Later that day, Mailloux was ordered to report to Cory North, the district transportation director. Expecting that something might be up, Mailloux recorded the interaction, which lasted about six minutes.

In the recording, North can be heard telling Mailloux that his attendance at the protest, at which he was seen holding an American flag, was the reason behind the firing. 

“I was instructed to let you go today, immediately,” North tells Mailloux. 

“Was I on the clock? Was I using any district resources?” Mailloux responded. 

“You were on the district property; you’re a district employee,” North answered.

Mailloux asked if district employees have First Amendment rights. 

“None of this is about First Amendment rights,” North can be heard answering. He tried to allege that Mailloux didn’t do his job effectively but did not elaborate. Later in the conversation, North clarified that the protest was the reason for the district decision, which he attributed to Superintendent Lance Pearson.  

“I have been asked to tell you, you no longer work here. It’s not my choice, not my call, please leave the facility,” North said. 

While Mailloux retrieved personal belongings from his former school bus, North can be heard reiterating the real reason for Mailloux’s dismissal: 

“You were on school property protesting something that you have no business being there,” North said. 

Mailloux said the matter was of concern to him as a United States citizen. Idaho is an at-will work state, a point that Mailloux gets wrong in his conversation, but everyone knows that if he were attending a protest in support of Black Lives Matter or against the Second Amendment or for pro-LGBT causes, he’d still have a job. 

Mailloux is still looking for work. A donation webpage has been set up to support him in the meantime. A little more than $5,500 has been raised at the time of this writing. Donations for Lohr have totaled about $7,800.

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