A lawsuit filed recently in Indiana accuses a teacher at Forest Park Elementary School in Indiana of giving a 7-year-old student “banishment” meaning he was not allowed to sit with other students at lunch merely because he said he didn’t believe in God.
According to the lawsuit which was obtained by The Washington Post, second grade teacher Michelle Myer asked the student, who was only identified with the initials A.B., about his religious beliefs after he allegedly informed his classmates that he did not go to church because he didn’t believe in God.
The child was then ordered to sit by himself during lunch for a three days.
The lawsuit goes on to state:
“The defendant’s actions caused great distress to A.B. and resulted in the child being ostracized by his peers past the three-day ‘banishment.’ Ms. Meyer asked A.B. if he had told the girl that he did not believe in God and A.B. said he had and asked what he had done wrong, Ms. Meyer asked A.B. if he went to church, whether his family went to church, and whether his mother knew how he felt about God…She also asked A.B. if he believed that maybe God exists.”
As if the teacher’s imposition of banishment wasn’t enough, the suit also claims that Meyer sent the child to talk to another adult who worked at Forest Park Elementary and that person:
“Reinforced his feeling that he had done something very wrong.”
Additionally, the lawsuit also alleges:
“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.”
And what effect did these actions have on the boy? According to the legal filing:
“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 A.B. remains anxious and fearful about school, which is completely contrary to how he felt before this incident.”
The family is seeking unspecified monetary damages and attorney’s fees.
For their part, the school board issued a statement in which they said:
“It is clear that it is not the province of a public school to advance or inhibit religious beliefs or practices. Under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, this remains the inviolate province of the individual and the church of his/her choice. The rights of any minority, no matter how small, must be protected.”
Perhaps the school board needs to share that sentiment with Michelle Myer as they show her to the door and terminate her employment.