Earlier this year at Forest Park Elementary School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, a second-grader known only as A.B. was asked by his classmate where he went to church. He said he didn’t go, adding that he didn’t believe in God, either. His friend began crying at that point, and that’s when teacher Michelle Meyer stepped in.
Ms. Meyer told A.B. that she was very concerned about what he had done and that she was going to contact his mother — although she never did.
This was very upsetting to A.B. as he was made to feel that he had done something wrong.
It got worse after that:
On the day of the incident and for an additional two days thereafter, Ms. Meyer required that A.B. sit by himself during lunch and told him he should not talk to the other students and stated that this was because he had offended them. This served to reinforce A.B.’s feeling that he had committed some transgression that justified his exclusion.
All this because he dared to answer a question honestly.
A.B.’s mother eventually met with Meyer and the school’s Assistant Principal to resolve the problem. But that didn’t stop students from shaming the boy for his non-belief.
A.B. came home from school on multiple occasions crying saying that he knows that everyone at school — teachers and students — hate him.
Even now there are some classmates who will not talk to A.B.
Even now A.B. remains anxious and fearful about school, which is completely contrary to how he felt before this incident.
Because of everything her son has been going through, the mother (“V.S.”) filed a lawsuit against the teacher. I wasn’t sure if the lawsuit had merit since the teacher wasn’t *trying* to ruin the kid’s life, but I understood the mother’s desire to show how damaging it was to treat her son like he had done something wrong.
After months of legal back-and-forth, both sides agreed today to drop the suit:
“We are pleased to see this case resolved,” Fort Wayne Community Schools spokeswoman Krista Stockman said Tuesday. “The dismissal reflects the fact that it should never have been brought in the first place.”
Fort Wayne Community Schools said in August that an internal investigation found no merit in the allegations and said Meyer acted appropriately in dealing with what the district called “an issue between students in a significantly different manner than detailed in the lawsuit.”
In the court’s dismissal, both sides were held responsible for paying their own court costs and attorney fees.
I have no call on whether this was the right legal move or not, but I’m glad the lawsuit’s over. A teacher’s inadvertent ignorance on matters of religion is very different from the problem we see so often of teachers who knowingly push their faith onto kids.
I just hope A.B. regains his confidence and the kids in his class don’t hold his views against him.