The Geary County School District will pay a former Fort Riley Middle School math teacher $95,000 to settle a lawsuit filed after she was disciplined for refusing to use the student’s preferred pronouns, according to her attorneys.
Pamela Ricard filed the suit in March after being suspended three days in the spring of 2021 for the matter. It was also noted that Ricard was required by the district to conceal the child’s social transition to parents. She claims the district’s policies on preferred pronouns violated her religious beliefs.
Ricard was challenging a school district policy that forced her to use a student’s “preferred name” to address the student in class while using the student’s legal name when speaking to parents—actions she said violated her conscience. After the court’s ruling, the school board voted to revoke the parental communications policy.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a nonprofit legal organization, says the U.S. District Court acknowledged Ricard could continue to address students by their preferred names while avoiding pronouns for those who have requested pronouns inconsistent with their biological sex.
In a statement Wednesday ADF called it a victory for free speech at public schools.
“This case provides straightforward lessons for Kansas school boards: Schools shouldn’t lie to parents and teachers don’t forfeit their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse door,” said Joshua Ney, partner at Kriegshauser Ney Law Group.
As part of the settlement, the district agreed to issue a statement that Ricard was in good standing without any disciplinary actions against her.