Teacher claims Minnesota school district won't allow him to teach biology
The Associated Press
FARIBAULT, Minn. A high school biology teacher has filed a state lawsuit contending school officials barred him from teaching about evolution because of his religious beliefs.
Science teacher Rod LeVake was told by a Faribault High School official in 1998 that he could no longer teach biology because of a "deep conflict between his religious beliefs and the teaching of evolution," according to the American Center for Law and Justice, the conservative legal firm founded by televangelist Pat Robertson.
"School officials are engaging in a type of educational McCarthyism in this case which cannot go unchallenged," Francis J. Manion, the ACLJ's senior regional counsel, said in a prepared statement. "Teachers must be able to tell students information they need to make up their minds about issues such as evolution."
LeVake's lawsuit, filed in state district court in Rice County on June 1, names the superintendent at Independent School District 656 and two Faribault High School officials as defendants.
Calls to the district and the high school seeking comment were not immediately returned.
LeVake's suit contends that he does not have a conflict with teaching evolution. LeVake, who describes himself as a Christian, said he only wanted students to be aware that not all scientists accept evolution as an unquestionable fact.
The lawsuit asks that LeVake be reinstated as a biology teacher and be paid more than $50,000 in damages, for what it alleges to be a violation of his First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and academic freedom, among other issues.
"School officials may not pry into an employee's religious beliefs and then discriminate against him because of what officials think about his beliefs," Manion said. "That kind of action is unconstitutional."
LeVake remains employed at the school as a general science teacher, according to Manion.