Religion

Lawsuit Filed Against Teacher Who Told Student To Sit Alone For Not Believing In God

| by Nathaly Pesantez

An elementary school teacher in Indiana is facing a lawsuit for allegedly violating the constitutional rights of one of her students.

In the lawsuit obtained by The Washington Post, Michelle Meyer, who teaches at Forest Park Elementary School in Fort Wayne, allegedly asked a student, identified as A.B., about his religious beliefs after he told his classmates that he does not believe in God, and therefore does not attend church.

After Meyer spoke to A.B., she ordered him to sit by himself during lunch, and prohibited him from speaking to classmates during this period for three days.

The suit argues that the teacher did much more than violate the student's First Amendment rights.

"The defendant’s actions caused great distress to A.B. and resulted in the child being ostracized by his peers past the three-day 'banishment,' reads part of the complaint. "No meaningful attempt has been made to remedy these injuries and the child seeks his damages."

The incident began in February, when a student asked A.B. if he attended church, to which he said no.

"The classmate said that A.B. had hurt her feelings by saying that he did not believe in God and started to cry," reads part of the complaint.

Meyer then told A.B. that his parents would be contacted, which upset A.B. Afterwards, another teacher said to the student who cried that "she should not listen to A.B.'s bad ideas," a comment that further upset A.B. "as it reinforced his feeling that he had done something very wrong."

"Even now A.B. remains anxious and fearful about school, which is completely contrary to how he felt before this incident."

Last Friday, Fort Wayne Community Schools (FWCS) released a statement opposing the lawsuit.

"[A]n investigations conducted by FWCS immediately upon notification of the incident found no merit in the allegations included in the lawsuit," reads part of the statement, according to WPTA. "Our investigation in March found she acted appropriately in dealing with an issue between students in a significantly different manner than detailed in the lawsuit."

"As a school district, we feel we must defend and protect the reputation of our staff when members are being unfairly maligned."

The lawsuit was filed on June 16 by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana.

Sources: The Washington Post (2)WPTA

Photo Credit: Forest Park Elementary School