A Kansas educator will receive $95,000 in compensation from the college that reprimanded her for failing to use the pronouns that were favored by one of her students.
Pamela Ricard, a math teacher at Fort Riley Middle School, filed a lawsuit against the Geary County School Board after she was suspended for the board’s enforcement of a policy that did not exist prior to her suspension and for infringing her rights. Ricard caused the incident by referring to a student by using the phrase “miss” accompanied by the student’s enlisted last name. The student took offense to this. Prior to this, a school counselor had informed her that the student picked a different first name than what was on record, and a classmate had informed her that the student personally prefers he/him pronouns, despite the fact that the student was enrolled in the school as a female. Moreover, a teacher also claimed to have informed her that the student preferred a different last name than what was on record.
In spite of the fact that the anti-bullying policy did not include any specific instructions on which pronouns should be used, the officials decided to issue Ricard a reprimand and place her on a three-day suspension for breaking the policy. A week after Ricard was allowed to return to work, following her suspension, the board of education enacted a new policy that mandated all staff members refer to students using the pronouns of their choice. On the other hand, instructors were strictly forbidden from informing parents of new names and pronouns for their children.
In the midst of the case, the school ultimately decided to rescind the policy in order to “avoid a preliminary injunction,” as Ricard’s attorney Joshua Ney, a partner at Kriegshauser Ney Law Group and a member of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Attorney Network, explained. Later on, a judge in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas decided that the school was required to cease the policy while the lawsuit continued to be heard.
Following the nearly $100,000 resolution, Tyson Langhofer, an ADF legal adviser and the director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom, stated that “no school district should ever force teachers to willfully deceive parents or engage in any speech that violates their deeply held religious beliefs.” Langhofer’s comments were made in response to a statement made by the ADF Center for Academic Freedom.
Ricard left her position at the school in May, and before she left, the administration agreed to release a statement stating that she “was in good standing without any disciplinary charges against her.”
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It is not entirely apparent what the most recent policy on pronouns is at the institution.