This Week in Amherst History- February 13, 1969

When confronted, Lucia refused to shave his facial hair and a unanimous decision to dismiss him from his duties shortly followed.

The school board cited “insubordination” and “failure to set a good example” as reasons for the dismissal, reported The Student. In a surprise turn of events, the five-member school board disbanded after making the decision to fire Lucia, claiming that parents opposed to the decision were harassing the board’s members. A permanent replacement board was to be formed at the annual town meeting the following month.

In response to Lucia’s firing, the Massachusetts Teachers Association quickly offered him legal assistance, with support from the Hampden County chapter of the Civil Liberties Union (CLU). CLU branch chairman Gerald Hegarty told The Student that Lucia’s dismissal was “a flagrant violation of the principles of academic freedom and due process of law,” and that the charges suggested “a gross interference with his personal freedom of expression.”

The decision motivated Amherst students to rally allegiance for Lucia, whose wife told The Student that her husband intended to keep his beard.