FWCS responds to lawsuit against teacher

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A lawsuit against a Fort Wayne Community Schools teacher has picked up traction on a national level. The suit claims a second grade teacher punished a student for not believing in God, but the school district said the teacher did nothing wrong.

NewsChannel 15 first reported the lawsuit back in June when it was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana.

The suit claims Michelle Meyer, a second grade teacher at Forest Park Elementary School, interrogated a child about his beliefs and required the child to sit by himself during lunch and not talk to his classmates during lunch for three days.

The suit, which was filed in federal court, refers to the student only as, “A.B.,” a second grader at Forest Park Elementary.

The suit adds that Meyer violated A.B.’s First Amendment rights and caused great distress to the student who was being “ostracized by his peers past the three-day ‘banishment.’ ”

NewsChannel 15 reached out to FWCS for a comment in June and heard nothing. On Tuesday, the district responded after a story about the lawsuit was in the Washington Post.

The post’s story ran Monday, and since, several other news websites have also picked it up.

The lawsuit claims this incident took place in February.

The district released the following statement:

Fort Wayne Community Schools values the diversity in the students, staff and families in our district in all aspects, including race, religion, color, gender, national origin, sexuality, disability or native language. A lawsuit recently filed against Forest Park Teacher Michelle Meyer alleges that she did not uphold these beliefs. However, an investigation conducted by FWCS immediately upon notification of the incident found no merit in the allegations included in the lawsuit. 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. While it is always a citizen’s right to pursue legal action, we are saddened that this has become an issue threatening the integrity of one of our teachers, of our staff, of our schools and of our community.

FWCS spokesperson Krista Stockman said the district does not typically make statement on lawsuits, and that the suit in question is not against the district, but only the teacher.

Stockman added that the story has reached a point where the district feels it needs to defend Ms. Meyer and the district.

There was no news that the district did its own investigation until Tuesday.

According to the ACLU recorded messaging system, the office only files lawsuits against “government entities,” so it is unclear why it has cited only the teacher, and not the district, in the lawsuit.

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