Central teacher sues over rights violations

Published: Apr. 10, 2013 at 1:04 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 10, 2013 at 2:04 AM CDT
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Michael Gardner
Michael Gardner

CENTRAL, LA (WAFB) - A teacher within the Central School system is suing his former boss and the system for violating his constitutional rights.

Michael Gardner says he was stripped of his Central High School assistant football coaching duties and reassigned to teach at the middle school after he made it known that he had purchased a daiquiri shop in the Central area.

Gardner says that was the beginning of the end of his Central High coaching career and filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking damages.

Gardner says his principal, Bob Wales often questioned him about how often he attended church and pushed his own religious beliefs on him.

Gardner sat alongside his attorney Tuesday but did not answer questions on the record for fear of further retaliation.

"I think its best described as a reaction of shock," said Jill Craft, Gardner's attorney.

"I mean, who would think in a million years that a public school employee would lose their job because they purchased a legitimate business that's licensed by the State of Louisiana?" Craft said.

Central School Superintendent Michael Faulk refused to comment on all of the specifics of the lawsuit saying that Gardner did lose his coaching job but was able to keep his teaching position after being transferred.

When asked if the stripping of the coaching duties and or the transfer had anything to do with the fact that Gardner now owns part of a bar, the superintendent made it clear he couldn't comment any further on the issue.

Gardner's attorney says this is a clear issue of a public employer injecting personal religious beliefs into the workplace.

"I think it was a knee jerk reaction on the heels of a lot of the religious discussion that the principal kept bringing into the school and his beliefs and his belief system," Craft said. "I think it was an attempt to foist that on my client."

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