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Teacher files free speech lawsuit against Colorado Springs Early Colleges

A former teacher filed a free speech lawsuit against Colorado Springs Early Colleges on November 6, 2014.  DiAnna Steele claims that she was subjected to retaliation for reporting her concerns about the shortcomings and lack of effective student and staff safety procedures.

The following are some of the allegations that Steele made in her lawsuit complaint:

  • Ms. Steele had performance objectives she was required to complete, and her successful completion of those performance objectives required her to meet with her supervisors. Following Ms. Steele’s reports of her concerns about student and staff safety, her supervisors refused to meet with her to ensure her successful completion of her performance objectives.
  • Additionally, senior CSEC staff changed the way they treated Ms. Steele after she reported her concerns about student and staff safety, and began subjecting Ms. Steele to a hostile work environment. 110. The hostile work environment Ms. Steele was subjected to by CSEC included making comments to Ms. Steele in her classroom in front of students with the purpose of embarrassing and harassing Ms. Steele.
  • Additionally, Jason Dilger [the Head of School for CSEC], who weeks earlier had praised Ms. Steele’s work and promised her a contract for the upcoming school year, made threats to terminate Ms. Steele’s employment.
  • In May 2014, Ms. Steele hired a lawyer to assist her with raising her concerns about working in a safe environment and to assert her right to not be punished or retaliated against for speaking up about her concerns for the safety of the CSEC students and staff. On May 13, 2014, Ms. Steele’s lawyer sent a letter to Keith King, CSEC’s Administrator, notifying him of Ms. Steele’s belief that she had exercised her First Amendment rights by reporting her concerns about student and staff safety and questioning CSEC’s security practices. Following CSEC’s receipt of the letters from Ms. Steele’s lawyer, CSEC continued to retaliate against Ms. Steele. The hostile work environment Ms. Steele had been subjected to continued after CSEC received the letter asserting her rights under the First Amendment.
  • Mr. Dilger failed to abide by his promise to provide Ms. Steele with a contract for the 2014-2015 school year. In fact, prior to Ms. Steele’s report of her concerns about student and staff safety, Mr. Dilger had promised to provide Ms. Steele with a contract to teach for the 2014- 2015 school year. Because CSEC did not provide Ms. Steele with a contract for the 2014-2015 school year, her employment with CSEC was terminated.
  • CSEC’s refusal to give Ms. Steele a contract for the 2014-2015 school year, and it’s decision to terminate her employment was motivated by a desire to retaliate against Ms. Steele for her questioning CSEC’s lack of policies about school safety and for hiring a lawyer to assist her with her exercise of her First Amendment rights.

This is a report on a civil lawsuit filed at the U.S. District Court. The details in this report come from an original complaint filed by a plaintiff. Please note that a complaint represents an accusation by a private individual, not the government. It is not an indication of guilt, and it represents only one side of the story.

 

Teacher files free speech lawsuit against Colorado Springs Early Colleges
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