Lawyer for student who alleged harassment wants teachers fired

Sept. 15, 2009
Former Anoka-Hennepin (Minn.) district student says 2 teachers made anti-gay slurs

-From The St. Paul Pioneer Press: The lawyer representing a former student in the Anoka-Hennepin (Minn.) school district wants officials to fire two teachers accused of sexually harassing the student. Attorney Jeffrey Anderson calls the two teachers "bullies" and says they engaged in a long pattern of harassment against former student Alex Merritt. Anderson says the discipline handed out by the district last year--a two-day suspension for social studies teacher Diane Cleveland and no final punishment for criminal justice teacher Walt Filson--wasn't enough. The attorney was responding to statements made by Cleveland's lawyer and six of Filson's former students in which they asserted that Merritt made the accusations of harassment only after Cleveland had reported him for talking about bringing a gun to school.

Earlier...from The St. Paul Pioneer-Press: A student who said two Anoka-Hennepin (Minn.) School District teachers harassed him with comments hinting he was gay made the allegations only after one of the instructors reported him to school officials for talking about bringing a gun to school, former students and the lawyer for one of the teachers assert. Philip Villaume, an attorney who represents Diane Cleveland, one of the teachers, says that the student, Alex Merritt, made his January 2008 allegations only after Cleveland reported to school officials that he and some other students had discussed bringing a gun to school. Teachers are required by law to report such incidents.

From The Minneapolis Star Tribune: Two teachers accused of repeatedly mocking a student they believed was gay are on leave from their jobs, Anoka-Hennepin (Minn.) School District officials said Tuesday. Diane Cleveland, a 39-year-old social studies teacher, and Walter Filson, a 56-year-old law enforcement teacher, went on leave within the past week.

AUGUST 2009...from The Minneapolis Star-Tribune: The Anoka-Hennepin (Minn.) School District has agreed to pay a $25,000 settlement to the family of a high school junior after two teachers harassed the boy and subjected him to classroom jokes, comments and innuendos concerning his perceived sexual orientation.

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