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Teacher accused of isolating atheist child now being sued for violating his constitutional rights

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(Sorry, mods, that the title doesn't match the article title--the title from the news outlet was poorly written and did not fully reflect the situation. I have used a title which matches the content of the article. I hope that's okay.)


Religion focus of suit vs. teacher Claims 2nd-grader segregated for beliefs
REBECCA S. GREEN | The Journal Gazette

An unidentified second-grader and his mother sued a Fort Wayne Community Schools teacher for violating his constitutional rights in February in a confrontation over religion.

According to the lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Fort Wayne, the child, identified as A.B., and his mother, identified only as V.S., sued Michelle Meyer, a second-grade teacher at Forest Park Elementary School.

She is sued in her individual capacity because she is accused of committing the action, not the school district, said Kenneth Falk, with the ACLU of Indiana, which filed the lawsuit. The district is not named in the lawsuit.

According to court documents, A.B. and his classmates were playing before lunch on the school’s playground Feb. 23. One of his classmates asked him if he went to church.

The boy told her he did not go to church and that he did not believe in God. According to court documents, this upset her, and she told him he hurt her feelings.

The playground supervisor reported it to Meyer, who asked A.B. about it before he went to lunch.

“Meyer asked A.B. if he told the girl that he did not believe in God, and A.B. said he had and asked what he had done wrong,” Falk wrote.

She then asked A.B. about his religious practices, where he went to church and whether his mother knew how he felt about God, according to court documents.

“She also asked A.B. if he believed that maybe God exists,” Falk wrote. “(She) told A.B. she was very concerned about what he had done and that she was going to contact his mother – although she never did.”

The day of the incident and for two days afterward, Meyer made A.B. sit by himself during lunch and told him not to talk to other students because he offended them, according to court documents.

“This served to reinforce A.B.’s feeling that he committed some transgression that justified his exclusion,” according to court documents.

The boy’s mother called the school, and the assistant principal set up a three-way phone conversation between himself, V.S. and Meyer. V.S. demanded the school not isolate her son or punish him for what he believed, according to court documents.

And he was allowed to rejoin his friends for lunch, according to court documents.

“After this three-day period, and after (his mother) complained, A.B. was told by (Meyer) and other teachers that he could believe what he wants,” Falk wrote. “But this was after (he) had been publicly separated from his classmates and informed he could not speak to them. All the students in his class heard and were aware of this. He was publicly shamed and made to feel that his personal beliefs were terribly wrong.”

According to court documents, the boy is now anxious and fearful about school, believing many teachers and students hate him and some classmates will not talk to him.

A.B and his mother are asking for unspecified damages and costs.

Attempts to reach Meyer for comment Wednesday were unsuccessful.

Fort Wayne Community Schools officials confirmed she is a teacher at Forest Park Elementary.

This article was published on the 25th of June. The only articles I can find are from this Fort Wayne news outlet, which I quoted above, from this local news outlet and this blog as well as some Reddit posts.

Imagine the roles had been reversed. If an atheist teacher had told a Christian child to sit on his own and not talk to the other students due to his faith, Fox news and every other outlet would be up in arms.

But Christians are the ones being persecuted in America, right?

Edited by Not a Tailor

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According to court documents, the boy is now anxious and fearful about school, believing many teachers and students hate him and some classmates will not talk to him.

A.B and his mother are asking for unspecified damages and costs.

Attempts to reach Meyer for comment Wednesday were unsuccessful.

i seriously do not understand people. the kid believes teachers and students hate him or dislike him BECAUSE THEY DO. atheists are hated. my son dealt with fall out from a god discussion when he was in elementary school, thankfully his teachers had nothing to do with it. but still, if you're raising a kid without religion - a parent also better raise that child to realize they will more than likely loose friends over it.

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Unbelievable. If the account is accurate, then that woman is not fit to be a teacher.

Why can't people keep their damn religion to themselves and in their church?

Because people are jerks and don't understand that religion isn't something that should be shoved in other people's faces.

i seriously do not understand people. the kid believes teachers and students hate him or dislike him BECAUSE THEY DO. atheists are hated. my son dealt with fall out from a god discussion when he was in elementary school, thankfully his teachers had nothing to do with it. but still, if you're raising a kid without religion - a parent also better raise that child to realize they will more than likely loose friends over it.

The problem with the bolded is that it gives kids a persecution complex. "People will attack you for your faith and you must hold strong" is a common refrain of Jesus Camps or even the Jesus Bus I was taken to as a small Canadian child. And look at the persecution complex it gives Christians.


Met in 2010 on a forum for a mutual interest. Became friends.
2011: Realized we needed to evaluate our status as friends when we realized we were talking about raising children together.

2011/2012: Decided we were a couple sometime in, but no possibility of being together due to being same sex couple.

June 26, 2013: DOMA overturned. American married couples ALL have the same federal rights at last! We can be a family!

June-September, 2013: Discussion about being together begins.

November 13, 2013: Meet in person to see if this could work. It's perfect. We plan to elope to Boston, MA.

March 13, 2014 Married!

May 9, 2014: Petition mailed to USCIS

May 12, 2014: NOA1.
October 27, 2014: NOA2. (5 months, 2 weeks, 1 day after NOA1)
October 31, 2014: USCIS ships file to NVC (five days after NOA2) Happy Halloween for us!

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I will never understand how people who claim to walk with God do such horrible things...


“Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated.” – Coretta Scott King

"Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge." -Toni Morrison

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

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The problem with the bolded is that it gives kids a persecution complex. "People will attack you for your faith and you must hold strong" is a common refrain of Jesus Camps or even the Jesus Bus I was taken to as a small Canadian child. And look at the persecution complex it gives Christians.

raising a child to be comfortable in exploring belief, while reinforcing that nearly everyone's beliefs evolve over time, does not set a kid up for a persecution complex. it provides support for the child to come into their own spirituality. my son goes back and forth on if he believes in 'a god' - just this last weekend he told me he decided it was aliens (who created earth) and that thinking that was true made him "feel better", having a bit certainty. now, he didn't come to that particular belief because his peers told him that he was going to burn forever in hell and that god hated him (which are just some of the things he's been told by his christian friends), he came to that particular belief simply because he's been given space to do so and he's watched too much ancient aliens. imo, it wouldn't be fair for me to allow him that space but not tell him what to expect from his peers, who do not and never will have that space to freely find their own path. that being said, i've never told my son that people will attack him for being atheist and he must hold strong. i've told him that christians are taught that atheists need saving and that his christian friends will, inevitably, try to save his soul. that's just reality.

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raising a child to be comfortable in exploring belief, while reinforcing that nearly everyone's beliefs evolve over time, does not set a kid up for a persecution complex. it provides support for the child to come into their own spirituality. my son goes back and forth on if he believes in 'a god' - just this last weekend he told me he decided it was aliens (who created earth) and that thinking that was true made him "feel better", having a bit certainty. now, he didn't come to that particular belief because his peers told him that he was going to burn forever in hell and that god hated him (which are just some of the things he's been told by his christian friends), he came to that particular belief simply because he's been given space to do so and he's watched too much ancient aliens. imo, it wouldn't be fair for me to allow him that space but not tell him what to expect from his peers, who do not and never will have that space to freely find their own path. that being said, i've never told my son that people will attack him for being atheist and he must hold strong. i've told him that christians are taught that atheists need saving and that his christian friends will, inevitably, try to save his soul. that's just reality.

There's a difference between 'this is their belief and they will try to 'save' you' and 'you will lose friends over this' in my view.


Met in 2010 on a forum for a mutual interest. Became friends.
2011: Realized we needed to evaluate our status as friends when we realized we were talking about raising children together.

2011/2012: Decided we were a couple sometime in, but no possibility of being together due to being same sex couple.

June 26, 2013: DOMA overturned. American married couples ALL have the same federal rights at last! We can be a family!

June-September, 2013: Discussion about being together begins.

November 13, 2013: Meet in person to see if this could work. It's perfect. We plan to elope to Boston, MA.

March 13, 2014 Married!

May 9, 2014: Petition mailed to USCIS

May 12, 2014: NOA1.
October 27, 2014: NOA2. (5 months, 2 weeks, 1 day after NOA1)
October 31, 2014: USCIS ships file to NVC (five days after NOA2) Happy Halloween for us!

November 18, 2014: NVC receives our case (22 days after NOA2)

December 17, 2014: NVC generates case number (50 days after NOA2)

December 19, 2014: Receive AOS bill, DS-261. Submit DS-261 (52 days after NOA2)

December 20, 2014: Pay AOS Fee

January 7, 2015: Receive, pay IV Fee

January 10, 2015: Complete DS-260

January 11, 2015: Send AOS package and Civil Documents
March 23, 2015: Case Complete at NVC. (70 days from when they received docs to CC)

May 6, 2015: Interview at Montréal APPROVED!

May 11, 2015: Visa in hand! One year less one day from NOA1.

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There's a difference between 'this is their belief and they will try to 'save' you' and 'you will lose friends over this' in my view.

well, i've said both to my kid. both are true.

when a child is that young and has never been to church or been exposed to religion, i don't think it's fair to not prepare a kid for the reaction they will more than likely get when god comes up in conversation. afterall, if this kid had known that he should not be made to feel like he'd done something wrong for giving his opinion, the teacher wouldn't have gotten away with secluding him for three days, he would have told his mom straight away.

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i seriously do not understand people. the kid believes teachers and students hate him or dislike him BECAUSE THEY DO. atheists are hated. my son dealt with fall out from a god discussion when he was in elementary school, thankfully his teachers had nothing to do with it. but still, if you're raising a kid without religion - a parent also better raise that child to realize they will more than likely loose friends over it.

Excellent example of someone that thinks there are a good Christian behaving in a very non Christian way.


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Excellent example of someone that thinks there are a good Christian behaving in a very non Christian way.

depends upon what brand of christian they are..this sort of behavior would be considered most-righteous by some.

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'hurt classmates feelings' by declaring not to believe in a God?

well, I can see isolation because of hurting a classmate's feelings, but with the 'talk-about-it' symposiums for childhood development that I attended ages past, it seems this teacher took the wrong approach for handling a bursting of the feelings wall.

topic not matter - what matters is that the feelings of another student were damaged using words. There's a path for enlightenment so that all parties 'kiss and make up' - this teacher's actions put a 'full stop' to any immediate reconcilation between the two students (which the teacher was to do at the time).

Now, the 'Christian' angle - well, it won't matter until a lawyer can prove up that the teacher was imposing her will on the student based on her religious beliefs, which she's not supposed to do.

slippery slope? not at all. IMO, what will get lost in the noise is the 'talk about church and God' that did not have the immediate outcome (ie, in 5 minutes) of both students being relieved of any angst. That did not happen. The teacher took another path, and it's the path that's gonna prove up the big damages. Not the 'God Stuff'.

ok - that's ma 2 cents - y'all squeeze round it some more - there's gotta be a huge thing about separation of Church and State as well, aye?


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well, i've said both to my kid. both are true.

when a child is that young and has never been to church or been exposed to religion, i don't think it's fair to not prepare a kid for the reaction they will more than likely get when god comes up in conversation. afterall, if this kid had known that he should not be made to feel like he'd done something wrong for giving his opinion, the teacher wouldn't have gotten away with secluding him for three days, he would have told his mom straight away.

So, I was a victim of teachers who were similarly abusive. I was badly bullied as a child and the school didn't want to do anything about it because it took up time and energy. The very tactic this teacher used "I'm calling your mother to tell her!" was used on me. The teachers would tell me they were calling my mother and then they'd put me out in the hallway. Sometimes I sat on the cold cement floor for two, three, four days at a time. I assumed each and every time that they HAD called my mother and she had okayed the punishment--because this was what they told me. When I didn't get lectured at home, I considered myself LUCKY that my mother had let the teachers deal with it and that I wasn't getting punished on both ends.

This went on for years. From Kindergarten until fifth grade. It wasn't until my ten years younger sister was in elementary school and I asked my mother how often she got calls home about my sister that I found out that the teachers had never called my mother in the first place.

A small child is VERY vulnerable to this kind of thing. The child was told that his parents had been called and then he was isolated. He had no reason to doubt that his mother already knew. I know I never did. I would get punched in the head by my seatmate in class and when I yelled for having been punched in the head, I'd get sent out for disrupting class. Had I actually done anything wrong? No. I'd been punched in the head. Of course I yelled. But every single time, I thought that I deserved the punishment, because it was being doled out by a teacher who said that she had called my mother.


Met in 2010 on a forum for a mutual interest. Became friends.
2011: Realized we needed to evaluate our status as friends when we realized we were talking about raising children together.

2011/2012: Decided we were a couple sometime in, but no possibility of being together due to being same sex couple.

June 26, 2013: DOMA overturned. American married couples ALL have the same federal rights at last! We can be a family!

June-September, 2013: Discussion about being together begins.

November 13, 2013: Meet in person to see if this could work. It's perfect. We plan to elope to Boston, MA.

March 13, 2014 Married!

May 9, 2014: Petition mailed to USCIS

May 12, 2014: NOA1.
October 27, 2014: NOA2. (5 months, 2 weeks, 1 day after NOA1)
October 31, 2014: USCIS ships file to NVC (five days after NOA2) Happy Halloween for us!

November 18, 2014: NVC receives our case (22 days after NOA2)

December 17, 2014: NVC generates case number (50 days after NOA2)

December 19, 2014: Receive AOS bill, DS-261. Submit DS-261 (52 days after NOA2)

December 20, 2014: Pay AOS Fee

January 7, 2015: Receive, pay IV Fee

January 10, 2015: Complete DS-260

January 11, 2015: Send AOS package and Civil Documents
March 23, 2015: Case Complete at NVC. (70 days from when they received docs to CC)

May 6, 2015: Interview at Montréal APPROVED!

May 11, 2015: Visa in hand! One year less one day from NOA1.

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So, I was a victim of teachers who were similarly abusive. I was badly bullied as a child and the school didn't want to do anything about it because it took up time and energy. The very tactic this teacher used "I'm calling your mother to tell her!" was used on me. The teachers would tell me they were calling my mother and then they'd put me out in the hallway. Sometimes I sat on the cold cement floor for two, three, four days at a time. I assumed each and every time that they HAD called my mother and she had okayed the punishment--because this was what they told me. When I didn't get lectured at home, I considered myself LUCKY that my mother had let the teachers deal with it and that I wasn't getting punished on both ends.

This went on for years. From Kindergarten until fifth grade. It wasn't until my ten years younger sister was in elementary school and I asked my mother how often she got calls home about my sister that I found out that the teachers had never called my mother in the first place.

A small child is VERY vulnerable to this kind of thing. The child was told that his parents had been called and then he was isolated. He had no reason to doubt that his mother already knew. I know I never did. I would get punched in the head by my seatmate in class and when I yelled for having been punched in the head, I'd get sent out for disrupting class. Had I actually done anything wrong? No. I'd been punched in the head. Of course I yelled. But every single time, I thought that I deserved the punishment, because it was being doled out by a teacher who said that she had called my mother.

it's crazy to me that you suffered all through elementary school and simply endured because you thought your mom ok'd the punishment. in third grade at recess, i got caught by a teacher stuffing my empty sandwich bag down the storm drain (instead of the trash can) and she said she was going to call my mom and tell her what i did. it scared the bejezuz out of me and i don't think i said anything to my mom for years. but that was one stupid incident, not years of being bullied and getting in trouble for it on top of everything? that's pretty heavy for a small child. i completely agree with the bold statement, and that is why it is important for parents to have ongoing conversations with their kids about what is and isn't appropriate action by authority. how would your situation have played out differently if you'd known, going into school, that your mom would never agree to discipline without getting your side of the story first? i guess the bullying aspect is just talked about more now than it was back when i was at school.

i'm not saying that the teacher in the op shouldn't be held accountable (in my opinion, she should be let go to pursue a 'teaching career' at a christian school) but the lack of parent accountibility is concerning.

Edited by decocker

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it's crazy to me that you suffered all through elementary school and simply endured because you thought your mom ok'd the punishment. in third grade at recess, i got caught by a teacher stuffing my empty sandwich bag down the storm drain (instead of the trash can) and she said she was going to call my mom and tell her what i did. it scared the bejezuz out of me and i don't think i said anything to my mom for years. but that was one stupid incident, not years of being bullied and getting in trouble for it on top of everything? that's pretty heavy for a small child. i completely agree with the bold statement, and that is why it is important for parents to have ongoing conversations with their kids about what is and isn't appropriate action by authority. how would your situation have played out differently if you'd known, going into school, that your mom would never agree to discipline without getting your side of the story first? i guess the bullying aspect is just talked about more now than it was back when i was at school.

i'm not saying that the teacher in the op shouldn't be held accountable (in my opinion, she should be let go to pursue a 'teaching career' at a christian school) but the lack of parent accountibility is concerning.

It only took the little boy three days to tell his mother. That says a lot, to me, that the parents DID care.

Honestly, I only stopped being bullied because, in 9th grade, I started pressing charges against everyone who hit me. It took a few police reports, but people just ignored me, after that. The teachers at my schools were not interested in helping. At one point, my principal actually bribed me with candy NOT to report when other children beat me up because it was extra paperwork for her.

It sounds like the parent in this case found out quickly what was wrong and intervened and the school responded, but the parent feels that the teacher needs to take personal responsibility for traumatizing the child.


Met in 2010 on a forum for a mutual interest. Became friends.
2011: Realized we needed to evaluate our status as friends when we realized we were talking about raising children together.

2011/2012: Decided we were a couple sometime in, but no possibility of being together due to being same sex couple.

June 26, 2013: DOMA overturned. American married couples ALL have the same federal rights at last! We can be a family!

June-September, 2013: Discussion about being together begins.

November 13, 2013: Meet in person to see if this could work. It's perfect. We plan to elope to Boston, MA.

March 13, 2014 Married!

May 9, 2014: Petition mailed to USCIS

May 12, 2014: NOA1.
October 27, 2014: NOA2. (5 months, 2 weeks, 1 day after NOA1)
October 31, 2014: USCIS ships file to NVC (five days after NOA2) Happy Halloween for us!

November 18, 2014: NVC receives our case (22 days after NOA2)

December 17, 2014: NVC generates case number (50 days after NOA2)

December 19, 2014: Receive AOS bill, DS-261. Submit DS-261 (52 days after NOA2)

December 20, 2014: Pay AOS Fee

January 7, 2015: Receive, pay IV Fee

January 10, 2015: Complete DS-260

January 11, 2015: Send AOS package and Civil Documents
March 23, 2015: Case Complete at NVC. (70 days from when they received docs to CC)

May 6, 2015: Interview at Montréal APPROVED!

May 11, 2015: Visa in hand! One year less one day from NOA1.

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It only took the little boy three days to tell his mother. That says a lot, to me, that the parents DID care.

Honestly, I only stopped being bullied because, in 9th grade, I started pressing charges against everyone who hit me. It took a few police reports, but people just ignored me, after that. The teachers at my schools were not interested in helping. At one point, my principal actually bribed me with candy NOT to report when other children beat me up because it was extra paperwork for her.

It sounds like the parent in this case found out quickly what was wrong and intervened and the school responded, but the parent feels that the teacher needs to take personal responsibility for traumatizing the child.

(F)

I'm so sorry NAT...


“Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated.” – Coretta Scott King

"Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge." -Toni Morrison

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

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