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California State University at Fresno announced late Tuesday that it would not punish a professor whose tweets calling the late first lady Barbara Bush racist prompted numerous calls for her firing -- although many experts on academic freedom said that there was no basis for doing so.

In a statement, Joseph I. Castro, president of the university, criticized the tweets of Randa Jarrar as "insensitive, inappropriate and an embarrassment to the university." But he said that she had violated no rules.

"Her comments, although disgraceful, are protected free speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution," Castro wrote. "Additionally, although Professor Jarrar used tenure to defend her behavior, this private action is an issue of free speech and not related to her job or tenure. Therefore, the university does not have justification to support taking any disciplinary action. Professor Jarrar will remain on leave through the spring semester, which she had previously requested before this incident."