Atheist teacher sues Indiana school
Meet Gerald Rasler, above, an Indiana high school principal who expects his staff to do silly Christian stuff – like like praying it won’t snow.
Well, Rasler is the central figure in a law suit filed last week against against the Middlebury (Indiana) School District by Kevin Pack, 29, a former German teacher at Northridge High School. He alleges that he was wrongfully fired because he’s an atheist, and wouldn’t submit to Rasler’s godly antics.
According to this report, Pack said:
I refused to pray, be a Christian or go along with any of (Rasler’s) evangelizing in the school, and they dismissed me over it.
However, school officials are saying that Pack’s poor teaching performance was the cause of his dismissal. In a press release issued last year after Pack was fired, school superintendent Janet Allen stated the following:
Tonight, the Board of School Trustees for Middlebury Community Schools, by a unanimous 4-0 vote, cancelled Northridge High School German teacher Kevin Pack’s probationary contract.
Middlebury Community Schools expects and demands that its teachers be proficient and try to do their best when educating our students. These efforts include effectively delivering lessons to students, conducting appropriate assessments, and timely grading.
The efforts also include making responsible choices about material provided or shown to students, treating fellow colleagues and students in a non-combative and respectful manner, attending appropriate meetings and conferences, participating in scheduled activities that benefit students’ educational development, and generally conducting themselves in a professional manner.
Most importantly, Middlebury Community Schools expects its teachers to place it students’ educational growth and needs as a first priority. Unfortunately, some teachers do not meet those expectations; Mr Pack was one of those teachers.
The press release further indicated that Pack was:
Merely a poor teacher, whose overall performance regressed throughout the school year and showed no potential for improvement.
Nevertheless, Pack maintains that he was fired from teaching at the Indiana school for criticising the principal’s “evangelizing” and for sending a mass email to faculty members notifying them of his atheism.
Rasler reportedly often mentioned faith-based activities in official faculty emails and announcements. In one email, Rasler reportedly encouraged his faculty to:
Get on your knees and pray for four good weather days during the finals.
Kevin Pack then replied:
I’m an atheist and a mystical sky daddy has nothing to do with weather, I won’t be kneeling.
This report adds that the lawsuit provides several examples of Rasler’s behaviour:
• During a phone interview before he was hired, Rasler asked Pack about his religious beliefs and political leanings.
• Before breakfast or lunch was served during faculty meetings, Rasler asked teachers to take part in a Christian prayer. The prayers offended Pack, an atheist committed to the separation of church and state. Because he was a new hire, he didn’t feel he could openly challenge Rasler, but he declined to act as if he was praying, which Rasler noticed.
• In an email sent to all faculty, Rasler once asked teachers to pray it wouldn’t snow so that student testing wouldn’t be disrupted. In a reply to all recipients of the email, Pack, alluding to his atheism, said he would choose instead to rely upon the predictions of meteorologists.
Pack complained to the Human Resources department about the proselytising, and the corporation did, in fact, find that Rasler had engaged in proselytising conduct prohibited by law.
However, after the snow email, Pack began getting negative reviews and disciplinary warnings. He was then fired by the school district last April. The school board provided a list of violations that were the cause of his firing, including things like showing an “inappropriate” film to a class, even though it was in the prior teacher’s lesson plan.
The Indiana teachers union has refuted many of the school board’s findings, according to Pack’s lawyer.
Pack is now back in his home state of Nebraska.