Education

Christian Student Sues Florida School, Alleges He Was Mocked By Students And Teachers For His Faith

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Kendall Tietz Education Reporter
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  • Nicholas Ortiz, a freshman at Miami’s Mater Academy has filed a lawsuit claiming he “was discriminated and retaliated against by his high school … because he is a Christian,” according to the complaint. Ortiz said he regularly brings his bible to school to read, which he alleges has made him a target for “disparaging comments” from other students, as well as staff and administrators.
  • The complaint also outlines what it calls false and defamatory statements that circulated among students claiming Ortiz was planning a school shooting. 
  • “Nicholas repeatedly made the school aware of a pattern of pervasive bullying by his fellow students, bullying that was reinforced by the words and actions of the school,” the complaint added. “Yet, the school did not just sweep Nicholas’s bullying claims under the rug — failing to report them as required under the law — they retaliated against Nicholas for reporting the harassment.”

A Florida student has sued his school over what he alleges is religious discrimination by his teachers and fellow classmates.

Nicholas Ortiz, a freshman at Miami’s Mater Academy has filed a lawsuit claiming he “was discriminated and retaliated against by his high school … because he is a Christian,” according to the complaint. Ortiz said he regularly brings his bible to school to read, which he alleges has made him a target for “disparaging comments” from other students, as well as school staff and administrators.

The complaint also outlines what it calls false and defamatory statements that circulated among students claiming Ortiz was planning a school shooting. Screenshots of communications between students show them discussing the rumored shooting and details their plans to physically assault Ortiz as a result. (RELATED: Supreme Court Sides With Christian Student In College Free Speech Case)

Due to the shooting allegations, Ortiz was given the maximum allowed punishment of a 10-day suspension.

“Nicholas repeatedly made the school aware of a pattern of pervasive bullying by his fellow students, bullying that was reinforced by the words and actions of the school,” the complaint added. “Yet, the school did not just sweep Nicholas’s bullying claims under the rug — failing to report them as required under the law — they retaliated against Nicholas for reporting the harassment.”

The lawsuit claims the school violated the student’s First Amendment rights by repeatedly violating “his constitutional right to due process, suspending him for the maximum time allowed for an allegation they knew was false, which is why they didn’t even talk to Nicholas before issuing the punishment.”

“Imagine being falsely accused of threatening to shoot up a school,” Matthew Sarelson, a partner at the Dhillon Law Group representing Ortiz said in a press release. “Law enforcement concluded that he was being pranked by fellow students, but that did not stop numerous parents from spreading the false accusation online.

“The students who spread the false accusations against Mr. Ortiz were never disciplined in any way,” he added. “Only Mr. Ortiz was suspended, without due process and for no valid reason.”

In one example, one of Ortiz’s teachers singled him out “in front of his peers and questioned him for believing in god” and “insinuated that Nicolas was ignorant for believing in the Bible,” the complaint said. When Ortiz tried to defend his beliefs, the teacher cut him off and said he “should not believe in the Bible.”

The school ignored multiple request’s by Ortiz’s parents about inquiries into their son’s bullying, according to the law firm’s press release. As a result, they are seeking “significant” damages because they believe the school “has destroyed his educational experience.”

“Mr. Ortiz is experiencing something that no American should ever have to experience,” Harmeet K. Dhillon managing partner of the Dhillon Law Group said in the press release. “It’s bad enough that the school has done nothing to stop the bullying from his peers, but have gone as far as joining in on targeting Mr. Ortiz for simply practicing his faith.”

“This is blatant violation of his first amendment rights is another example of how extreme so many in our education system have become, and why Dhillon Law Group is coming to Mr. Ortiz’s defense,” she said.

Mater Academy did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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