How Mater Academy treats the Christian children under its care.
They’re coming for you next: Nicholas Ortiz, then a 14-year-old Christian freshman at the high school level of Florida’s charter school Mater Academy, has sued the school for allowing both students and teachers to slander, harass, and discriminate against him for his religious beliefs, and then punishing him when he reported the abuse to school officials.
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.
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.”
You can read his complaint here [pdf].
Though the whole behavior of the school and its students is intolerant and disgusting, this event — which probably began the persecution — is probably the most egregious:
During a Fall 2021 classroom discussion, [then fourteen-year-old] Nicholas’s science teacher, Mr. Ardieta, singled out Nicolas in front of his peers and questioned him for believing in God. Mr. Ardieta insinuated that Nicoloas was ignorant for believing in the Bible. When Nicholas attempted to defend his beliefs, Mr. Ardieta cut him off and said, in front of the class and during the classroom discussion, Nicholas should not believe in the Bible.
This same disparaging attitude towards faith has been adopted by Nicholas’ peers. Students have regularly made disparaging comments to Nicholas about his Bible reading and his faith. Students have threatened Nicholas publicly and privately with violence both in general and on account of his faith.
For a teacher to publicly single any child and attack them for their personal religious beliefs should be grounds for instantaneous firing. That teacher should have been immediately escorted to the exit and banned from ever teaching any children ever again.
Instead, it appears the administration at the Mater Academy not only supported Ardieta, it expanded the persecution against Ortiz. Quite clearly the teacher’s actions encouraged the other students in the school to ramp up their attacks and slanders, knowing the school backed them in every way. When the students began to make false accusations that Ortiz was planning a school shooting — based on no evidence — the school suspended Ortiz without ever giving him a chance to defend himself. The administration took the false accusations at face value.
Kudos for the Ortiz family for suing. I hope they win. My only regret is that they are not also suing the particular teachers and administrators who were personally responsible for Nicholas’s ordeal.
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