Phillips v. Collin Community College District

January 2022
Collin College (Public college or university)
McKinney, TX, United States

Identity of Speakers

  • Michael Phillips

    Michael Phillips was a professor of history at Collin College

Additional Information

  • Incident Nature:
    Rally or protest
  • Incident Political Orientation:
    Left wing
  • Incident Responses:
    Faculty sanctioned
  • Incident Status:
    In litigation Federal District Court
  • Did not involve Speech Codes


Michael Phillips alleged that Collin College refused to renew his contract because of his involvement in efforts to remove Confederate monuments from Dallas and his outspoken criticism of Collin College’s COVID-19 policies—in particular, its instruction to staff to not request that students wear masks in light of Texas Governor Greg Abbot’s ban on mask mandates.

This controversy comes amidst multiple incidents at Collin College involving alleged violations of free speech rights by administrators. Another professor, Lora Burnett, sued the college in 2021, alleging that her contract had not been renewed because of her critical tweets about the school’s COVID-19 policies and then-Vice President Mike Pence. She eventually reached an out-of-court settlement with the college. Also in 2021, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education listed Collin College as one of the top ten worst colleges for free speech.

In March of 2022, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) filed suit against Collin College challenging Phillips’ termination and its policies.  In September of 2022, the district court denied Defendants’ motion to dismiss, stating that Phillips had pled a plausible claim for prior restraint in the employment context. On April 11, 2023, Phillips filed a motion for partial summary judgment on 5 of his 7 claims against Collin College. The motion challenges the College’s policies as overly broad and vague, and as prior restraints on employee speech by allowing its administrators to prohibit public criticism of the College.

In November, 2023, Collin College the suit, with the jury agreeing with Collin College’s position that the school’s “policies are not unconstitutionally vague as alleged.