Four years ago, when Rachel Carr lost her job over a Facebook post, she hired a lawyer to argue her right to free speech shouldn’t have cost her a job with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Two years ago, she felt vindicated when the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court agreed with her. But this week, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned that decision, leaving her back where she began. In 2016, Carr, of Bradford, posted a criticism of a school bus driver in a private group on Facebook and “voiced her frustration” by making statements indicating she didn’t care about the children on the bus and would “gladly smash into a school bus,” according to court records. Her Facebook page indicated she was employed by PennDOT. Citizens complained to the agency. Carr was fired. Her attorney, Kyle Milliron of Duke Center, filed an appeal on her behalf to the state Civil Service Commission, arguing her firing was inappropriate, as she was exercising her right to free speech. The commission ruled against her in August 2017, saying her “disparaging remarks” brought “disrepute” to PennDOT and its mission of public safety, and “raised issues of trust.” Milliron appealed that decision to the state’s Commonwealth Court, which ruled in Carr’s favor in 2018. That decision indicated the Civil Service Commission erred by judging “Carr on the public’s reaction to her post, as opposed to the substance of the speech itself.” Quoting a U.S. Supreme Court decision, the decision stated, “The inappropriate or controversial character of a statement is irrelevant to the question whether it deals with a matter of public concern.” The judge noted, “Here, Carr’s speech touched on the safety of schoolchildren and the traveling public,” but called the manner in which she expressed her concerns “abhorrent.” Attorneys for PennDOT appealed that ruling to the state Supreme Court. Arguments were held in September. The Supreme Court decision, rendered Tuesday, upheld Carr’s dismissal from her job. Contacted Thursday, Milliron said only, “We are disappointed about the decision and we are reviewing our options.” According to the Supreme Court’s decision, they agreed that Carr’s comments could have served to damage the public’s trust in PennDOT. “Clearly few comments could be more contrary to the department’s mission of providing safe roadways for the traveling public than Carr’s comment, ‘I don’t give a flying s- — about those babies and I will gladly smash into a school bus,’” the decision read. “Furthermore the fact that the department received complaints via social media about Carr’s posts highlights the reasonableness of its concerns regarding the loss of public trust.”

Four years ago, when Rachel Carr lost her job over a Facebook post, she hired a lawyer to argue her right to free speech shouldn’t have cost her a job with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Two years ago, she felt vindicated when the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court agreed with her. But this week, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned that decision, leaving her back where she began.

In 2016, Carr, of Bradford, posted a criticism of a school bus driver in a private group on Facebook and “voiced her frustration” by making statements indicating she didn’t care about the children on the bus and would “gladly smash into a school bus,” according to court records.

Her Facebook page indicated she was employed by PennDOT. Citizens complained to the agency. Carr was fired.

Her attorney, Kyle Milliron of Duke Center, filed an appeal on her behalf to the state Civil Service Commission, arguing her firing was inappropriate, as she was exercising her right to free speech. The commission ruled against her in August 2017, saying her “disparaging remarks” brought “disrepute” to PennDOT and its mission of public safety, and “raised issues of trust.”

Milliron appealed that decision to the state’s Commonwealth Court, which ruled in Carr’s favor in 2018. That decision indicated the Civil Service Commission erred by judging “Carr on the public’s reaction to her post, as opposed to the substance of the speech itself.”

Quoting a U.S. Supreme Court decision, the decision stated, “The inappropriate or controversial character of a statement is irrelevant to the question whether it deals with a matter of public concern.”

The judge noted, “Here, Carr’s speech touched on the safety of schoolchildren and the traveling public,” but called the manner in which she expressed her concerns “abhorrent.”

Attorneys for PennDOT appealed that ruling to the state Supreme Court. Arguments were held in September.

The Supreme Court decision, rendered Tuesday, upheld Carr’s dismissal from her job.

Contacted Thursday, Milliron said only, “We are disappointed about the decision and we are reviewing our options.”

According to the Supreme Court’s decision, they agreed that Carr’s comments could have served to damage the public’s trust in PennDOT.

“Clearly few comments could be more contrary to the department’s mission of providing safe roadways for the traveling public than Carr’s comment, ‘I don’t give a flying s - - - about those babies and I will gladly smash into a school bus,’” the decision read. “Furthermore the fact that the department received complaints via social media about Carr’s posts highlights the reasonableness of its concerns regarding the loss of public trust.”

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