Tampa School District Must Stop the Bullying
May 18, 2017
TAMPA, FL – Liberty Counsel renewed a previous demand with a follow-up letter to Hillsborough County Public Schools regarding its pitiful investigation and whitewash of the discriminatory bullying behavior of Lora Jane Riedas, a math teacher at Riverview High School.
Liberty Counsel now represents four students who independently confirmed and provided additional information regarding the classroom political activism and bullying of Riedas. Her social media confirms her activism during class time. School officials failed to properly address and discipline Riedas’ behavior, despite the obvious contradictory evidence.
Reidas admitted to the school investigator that she used personal Twitter and Facebook accounts but stated it was not during instructional time. She also stated that she did not use her role as the Riverview Gay-Straight Alliance (RGSA) sponsor to coerce students to participate in Riverview’s Day of Silence. Ms. Riedas’ (and Hillsborough Schools) also claim that RGSA club activities are exclusively “student led.”
But, Riedas’ social media and emails were sent during instructional hours through the Riverview internal internet, promoting the club, GLSEN events and political viewpoints. Moreover, Riedas specifically promoted the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) publicly coercive “Teacher’s Guide” to pro-LGBT classroom activism on “Day of Silence,” without any caveats, urging other teachers to implement its classroom coercion.
Riedas told the investigator that only the students who wore rosary beads were asked to remove them because she said the rosary is a “gang” symbol.
But, three students wearing small cross necklaces or crucifixes were told by Riedas to “take it off” or “take it off or cover it up.” One student wore a rosary, which is neither a “gang” symbol nor against school policy. The rosary was provided to the student after receiving it for confirmation, as a symbol of faith.
The school stated that the stickers Riedas placed on students’ folders did not have LGBT letters on them and did not promote LGBT issues in class.
But, Riedas placed rainbow stickers on all the students’ notebooks at the beginning of the school year. She is a trained GLSEN activist with photographic evidence on her social media profiles that the
stickers are pro-LGBT, and her classroom is blatantly decorated with pro-LGBT political ideology. In the classroom, she also displays an upside-down rainbow triangle.
The school never addressed the large buttons prominently displayed in the classroom, including “I LOVE MY LGBT STUDENTS,” “Proud Public Employee,” and a GLSEN button. Nor did the school address the paper cutout on the wall spelling “ALLY” in which students sign their names.
Riedas told the school investigator that any student wearing a hat in class is required to take it off.
But, Riedas and her lesbian partner, also a teacher at the school, both confiscated a Trump “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) hat from our student client on separate occasions. Each time the hat was in the student’s hands, not on his head. Riedas has been a vocal Hillary Clinton supporter.
“The Hillsborough County Public Schools must renounce the unconstitutional bullying behavior of Lora Jane Riedas,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “Riedas cannot ban religious jewelry and discipline students who wear Christian cross necklaces or MAGA hats. She cannot use the math class to advocate her LGBT political agenda. She is a math teacher whose job is to teach mathematics, not promote her personal politics. We will not allow the school to ignore this inappropriate behavior in the classroom,” said Staver.
Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.