Fort Riley Middle School officials have agreed to pay $95,000 to Pamela Ricard after the now retired math teacher filed a successful lawsuit saying officials violated her First Amendment rights when they reprimanded and suspended her for addressing a student by the pupil's legal and enrolled name.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the law firm representing Ricard, reports that the school had also forced Ricard to conceal the student's social transition from the student's parents.
"We're hopeful that that sends a message to other schools around the country that tolerance is a two-way street," comments ADF attorney Caleb Dalton. "We don't need to compel teachers to violate their faith and say things that are really untrue and harmful to students and deceptive to parents."
Unfortunately, Dalton says Ricard's case is not unique. For example, ADF is also representing teachers in Virginia, where his firm, which describes itself as "the world’s largest legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, marriage and family, parental rights, and the sanctity of life," recently filed a brief citing "the great opinion that we got here in Ricard's case."
"They're facing a similar policy that requires them to deceive parents," the attorney details. "A parent has a right, as the court recognized in this case, to direct the upbringing of their children, and that doesn't end at the schoolhouse gate, especially when you're talking about middle school students, which is in this case."
Teachers, he says, are being told they are not allowed to tell the parent about important aspects of their children's lives.
"It is important for parents to be part of that, and as a middle school teacher, Pam obviously knew that the way for students to succeed is for parents to be involved in their education and health decisions," Dalton submits.
So for a school to tell a teacher to keep parents in the dark, he says, is wrong.
"It violates the teachers' rights, and it violates the parents' rights."
Attorneys for Kriegshauser Ney Law Group also represented Ricard.