Government School That Suspended Teacher Over ‘Preferred Names’ Must Pay Her $95,000 in Damages

A middle school teacher in Kansas sued a school district in May after she was suspended for refusing to call a student by a “transgender” preferred name in class and the student’s legal name in front of parents.

Pamela Ricard alleged in her lawsuit against Geary County Schools that the policy (informal at the time of her suspension) of requiring teachers to deceive parent violated her First Amendment freedoms and her conscience. Under the policy, teachers essentially must lie to parents of minors. Ricard was suspended under an anti-bullying policy.

The court granted Ricard a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to block the school board from taking adverse action against her. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), Ricard’s legal counsel, announced that the district has settled with her. The middle school must pay her $95,000 in damages and legal fees:

As part of the settlement in Ricard v. USD 475 Geary County Schools School Board Members, school officials have agreed to issue a statement that Ricard was in good standing without any disciplinary actions against her at the time of her retirement in May. In light of the favorable settlement, ADF attorneys filed a dismissal of the case Wednesday.

Joshua Ney, partner at Kriegshauser Ney Law Group, ADF’s co-counsel, said the case “provides straightforward lessons for Kansas school boards: Schools shouldn’t lie to parents and teachers don’t forfeit their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse door.”

Photo credit: Alan Alfaro (Creative Commons) – Some rights reserved

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