American Family Association threatens lawsuit against Saline school district
The American Family Association of Michigan has accused Saline school board members of pressuring administrators to "punish a teacher" for speaking out against proposed changes in the district's non-discrimination policy and threatened the district with a lawsuit if such pressure does not stop.
Gary Glenn, president of the organization, sent the following e-mail Monday to the board, Superintendent Scot Graden and members of the news media:
“If members of the Saline school board continue to pressure school officials to punish a teacher for daring exercise his First Amendment-guaranteed free speech right to express opposition to your changing school district policy to give special ‘protected class’ status to students who engage in homosexual behavior and cross-dressing, thus threatening further harassment and discrimination against students and teachers who believe such behavior is unhealthy, harmful, and wrong, the district will find itself on the receiving end of a federal civil rights lawsuit (a lengthy and expensive process which Saline taxpayers will be forced to pay for).”
The school board is considering changing the non-discrimination policy to add “sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.” The board is scheduled to vote on the policy on Oct. 12.
On Tuesday, Glenn said e-mails show Board President David Friese and Trustee Lisa Slawson tried to encourage punitive action against a teacher at the high school who expressed opposition to the proposed changes to the non-discrimination policy. Glenn said he has not seen the e-mails. “I believe the people who have given this information to us," he said.
Friese said he had sent no such e-mails. “No action has been taken against any staff member regarding this issue," he said. "No member of the administration has talked to a staff member regarding this issue to my knowledge.”
Friese added, "“No one from the administration has talked to (Glenn)."
Slawson said the entire board received an e-mail Saturday night from a teacher who opposed changing the non-discrimination policy. Slawson said felt that she was personally bullied in the letter, because it mentioned her name and suggested that she step down from her position.
Slawson said she responded by writing an -email to Graden. Slawson but did not suggest that any action be taken against the teacher.
She told Graden she'd like to meet with the teacher. She also forwarded the teacher's letter to Tim Heim, the union president, and wrote to Heim, "With all due respect, I will not be bullied by a district employee.”
"What I said I don’t think any court of law would say I asked for him to be punished," Slawson said. Slawson holds a law degree from Indiana University.
Slawson said she reserves her right to file a complaint against the teacher, noting that the district's bullying policy applies to board and staff members.
Glenn would not comment when asked if the teacher who sent the e-mail is the one who contacted the American Family Association.