The school district is preparing to defend teachers, guidance counselors, administrators and itself against accusations of retaliation by a Delta High School graduate.
The lawsuit alleges that school officials retaliated against Cidney Fisk, Class of 2016, when she spoke out against religious activities during school hours on school property. Cidney Fisk, Class of 2016, filed suit in U.S. District Court through her counsel, Jeffrey Springer and Andrew Reid of Springer & Steinberg.
Fisk claims that when she exercised her right to speech and religious beliefs, school officials and teachers retaliated by reducing her grades, depriving her of honors she believed she'd earned, undermining her scholarship and university applications, and creating an unwelcome and hostile environment.
As a result, Fisk maintains she suffered extreme emotional and mental harm requiring hospitalization.
In support of a statement that Fisk was an "outstanding student, leader and member of the community," the suit lists her academic and extracurricular activities at DHS. It notes that as student body treasurer, Fisk became outspoken about the school's and district's spending priorities.
She was also openly critical about abstinence-only speakers invited to address students, stating such presentations were based on Christian religious beliefs. She also targeted the distribution of Gideon Bibles at Delta Middle School. When interviewed by the Daily Sentinel, she came out publicly in an ensuing article as an atheist.
The lawsuit alleges that article spurred death threats on Facebook message boards. When Fisk's parents reported the death threats to the school administration and the police, no action was taken.
Fisk continued to express her views through articles in the school newspaper and magazine, and by wearing T-shirts and costumes that proclaimed her opinions on religion, abortion and sex education.
Fisk says teachers and counselors critized her for her "attitude," allegedly finding it "not suitable as a student leader." She was accused of "stirring the pot."
Named as defendants in the lawsuit are Delta County Joint School District #50, the school board, superintendent Caryn Gibson, principal Derek Carlson, counselors Shawna Magtutu and Holly Teyler-Crowder, and John Miller, a DHS teacher.
Fisk, a student at the University of Denver, is seeking "compensatory and consequential damages, including damages for economic losses, emotional distress, humiliation, loss of enjoyment of life, and other pain and suffering on all claims allowed by law in an amount to be determined at trial."
Punitive damages, attorneys' fees and costs are also requested, along with a demand for a jury trial.