Kevin Pack, a former German teacher at Northridge High School, has filed suit against the Middlebury (Indiana) School District alleging he was fired because he identifies as an atheist. Pack was hired by the district in 2013 but was fired in April 2014.
The school district maintains it fired Pack for insubordination, immorality and incompetence.
“We did not terminate Mr. Pack because he is (an) atheist,” Superintendent Jane Allen said Thursday, Jan. 22. “He was a poor teacher. That is why we terminated him, and we still believe the same thing.”
Pack filed suit alleging he was fired in retaliation for questioning the proselytizing of the school’s principal, Gerald Rasler. Here are several examples from the suit:
- 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 proselytizing, and the corporation did, in fact, find that Rasler had engaged in proselytizing conduct prohibited by law. However, after the snow email in the example above, Pack began to get negative reviews and disciplinary warnings. He was then fired by the school district in April. The school board had a laundry list of violations that were the cause of his firing, including things like showing a film to the class that is inappropriate, 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.
My two cents? Pack could be a terrible teacher. I don’t know if he is or not, but the behavior of Principal Rasler makes it appear that he fired Pack because he didn’t fit in, a square peg in a round hole. My anonymous source, who grew up near this area, tells me this is a very religious area. The town website even states “Many churches will welcome you to town…”
Pack is now living in Nebraska, where he is from.
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H/T to my anonymous source. You know who you are.
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