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Pushback: Christian HS student sues school for persecuting him because of his religion

How Mater Academy treats its Christians
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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9 comments

  • Col Beausabre

    His family should sue personally the administrators, teachers and the families of the students involved (we always hear about the Left decrying what they call bullying – time to put their money where their mouth is), Skander sounds like a good start

  • Phill O

    Astounding that this should happen in America!

  • George

    I hope that guy hits the school hard with a punitive damage amount that will make every school board in the country think twice.

    I wonder if school districts are truly ‘incorporated’ as corporations?

    If they are, if this one is, then who are the officers of the corporation? Normally the officers of a corporation are immune to lawsuits as long as they don’t commit fraud or negligence which hurts someone. If corporate officers can be proven guilty of fraud or negligence, that resulted in losses, then their personal assets can be gone after in court. It would not be the school district alone getting sued, the officer(s) would, too.

    I’m not a lawyer, just once looked into the value of a corporation and learned about the subject of,
    “PIERCING THE CORPORATE VEIL.”

    Whether or not the school is a corporation, I hope it gets financially gutted, eviscerated, to and beyond the limits of its liability protection insurance, and it sends a signal and stops this crap which is always going on, ‘the state’ infringing on religion.

  • Edward

    Not to worry, Col Beausabre, the footnote 1 on page 40 of the complaint says that the parents and students who libeled and slandered the victim will be sued in a different lawsuit.

    Exhibit A is the 97 page Code of Student Conduct. How did student conduct become so complicated that it requires a hundred pages to explain?

    Did anyone else notice that the district policy against bullying and harassment is labelled as a “Vital Alert,” complete with color highlighting (pp. 37 — 39 of the code)? Yet when the Christian kid reports that he is being harassed over his religion, the school blames him and his religion. Does that sound like they are treating it as vital? Page 3 of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Policy Against Bullying and Harassment states that both religion and political beliefs, among many other things, are protected for students “or other person in the school or outside of the school.”

    On the other hand, Chapter III of the Code of Student Conduct lists student rights as though they are granted by the school district rather than being inherent to the students and protected by the school district. For example, the first listed right, on page 26 of the code:

    Students have the right to information on rules, policies and procedures that clearly define excused absences, unexpected absences, and tardies.

    Listing rights as though they are granted by the school district implies that those rights may be removed by the district. This is exactly what happened to the victim. The school administrators decided that the rights of the student did not apply to this one particular student, so they victimized him just as did his original tormentors.

    The U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights states that our rights are not to be removed by government. It does this by using phrases such as “shall not be infringed,” signifying that they are inherent rights. Had the Code of Student Conduct been written this way, then the school administrators would have realized that they were not allowed to infringe this student’s rights. It wasn’t, so they did.

    The right to freedom of expression in school is fourteenth on the list. In the Bill of Rights, it is first. What does the school district think is most important right for the students? The right to information on the rules about absences. Absences. Information on the rules about absences. The top concern for the school district is attendance. The school district’s philosophical basis for this right is that “Students have an obligation to avail themselves of the opportunity for public school education,” which is very different than having a right to an education, much less a quality education. Rather than having a right to an education they have an obligation.

    How far down the list of granted rights is the right to a good education? Oh, that right comes 36th on the list of 54 rights. Maybe.

    Students have the right to study all subjects under qualified instructors an atmosphere free from bias and prejudice.

    Having qualified instructors isn’t a guarantee of a quality education, for instance the curriculum may be tainted by a woke agenda. Or by many other contaminations. And, of course, the qualified instructor openly disagreed with the student-victim’s religion in front of the whole class. Some qualification. Not among the rights is one for a quality education, the supposed purpose of the school. Or is the purpose only to comply with state laws that require something that can pass for an education?

    No wonder our education system sucks. The educators have forgotten the fundamentals: reading, writing, and arithmetic. Rather than concentrate on the important aspects of an education they have been distracted by a hundred pages of poorly written conduct codes.

    Now the question is: will the court agree with the school, that the rights are given to the students by the school’s Code of Conduct and thus may be withdrawn at the whim of the school, or will it agree with the parents that they are inviolable rights? Will the court agree with the school that it may pile onto the phony, bullying rumors by affirming that the innocent student actually was a bad person, deserving of suspension?

    The United Nations’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) has a similar flaw, except it explicitly states that the rights granted by the declaration may be withdrawn at the whim of the UN leadership:

    Article 29
    3. These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

    Who decides what is contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations? Why, it is the UN leadership, of course. With an international example like this, it is no wonder that the school’s administration feels it may violate rights at their own whim.

    The UN leads by poor example, and the school follows that example.

    By the way, Russia has violated Article 19 with its decree that anyone speaking or writing things contrary to the Russian government’s position will be arrested with prison terms. It is reported that this is why the New York Times has abandoned Russia. What is the UN doing to Russia for this violation of the UDHR? There is a second flaw in the UN’s UDHR: it is not enforced. (Third flaw? Freedom of expression is 19th in importance, but first in importance is dignity and how people should act toward one another.)

    What good are rights if they are not enforced?

  • wayne

    Edward-
    Thanks for that summary, haven’t had a chance to read the complaint. yet.

    total tangent– how much is gasoline in your area?

  • Edward

    wayne,
    This morning I paid $4.999, but that is the cheapest place. I see prices at other refueling stations approaching $6. As I recall, Trump warned that if Let’s Go Brandon were elected then prices would reach $7, $8, or $9. Looks like he was right.

  • Edward

    Wayne,
    Today I paid closer attention to gas prices. I saw $6.599 at one station for premium and $6.299 for regular, low octane. I don’t know where the highest priced station is, in my area, but the inexpensive station where I refuel on Thursday has longer lines than usual. Cars aren’t usually out on the street waiting for their turn, but they are there this week.

  • wayne

    Edward–
    Thanks for that.
    ->$4.259 everywhere in SW Michigan.

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