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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

No Boundaries

Did this guy also offer feedback on weight management and financial planning?

Prior Lake-Savage School Board fires campus supervisor
A Prior Lake High School campus supervisor was fired Monday for talking to students on campus about abstinence and their sexual orientation.

By Emily Johns, Star Tribune

Last update: June 19, 2007 – 11:13 AM

The Prior Lake-Savage School Board voted Monday night to fire a campus supervisor the district says was talking to students on campus about their sexual orientation.
Chris Lind, who has worked at the high school for five years, has become a de facto advice-giver, friend and religious mentor to some students. A dedicated Christian, he says that he often meets off-campus with students to talk with them about issues in their lives.

The school board says Lind was fired for "job performance and employee insubordination," but Lind's supporters -- who showed up dozens-strong at Monday's meeting-- say it's an issue of free speech and religious discrimination.

And Lind is promising to sue.

Legally, the school district had to remain mum about the reasons for firing Lind before the action was taken. But board members could discuss the matter afterwards, and board chairman Mike Murray read a statement after the board voted 4-2 to fire him.

"This is not about constitutional rights relating to freedom of speech or religion," Murray said, "nor is it an attempt to unfairly restrict employee behavior outside of the workplace."

Murray's statement detailed a progressive set of disciplinary actions against Lind while the district received complaints about him talking to students on campus about their sexual orientation. The district also warned him about maintaining appropriate boundaries with students and the need to separate the role of a supervisor for students and the role of a friend.

He was given a written reprimand in August, then a three-day suspension in January.

In May, Lind was placed on unpaid administrative leave after a student complained to a teacher that the student heard Lind tell another student at the high school that today was "National Pick-On Lesbians Day."

An investigation was conducted, and based on the previous actions against him, the district decided to fire him.

Lind insists the district's allegations paint an inaccurate picture of him and that it's "easy to choose words that are sexual in nature to try to pin me as someone I'm not." Until his lawsuit is filed, he said, he wouldn't say more about the issue, except that "when the truth comes out, it will be a different story."

Earlier, Lind has said that he would meet with students at places such as Caribou Coffee to talk. Sometimes, he said, parents with a troubled child would ask him to help, and some of these relationships would go on for years.

When students asked him about their sexual orientation, or told him they were gay, he said he would tell them that the Bible says "that behavior is inappropriate," but that it's not a worse sin than any other.

More than 600 people, including many who identify themselves as school district residents, have signed an online petition in support of Lind.

The board's admonition that this was not about "freedom of speech or religion" seemed unlikely to quell the critics on Monday, who walked out of the meeting after Lind was fired. In a meeting in the district parking lot, they talked about setting up a legal defense fund for Lind and prayed together.

"This is a battle Satan has started," said KarenRae Mord, a vocal supporter of Lind. "As Christians, we're not going to be quiet anymore."

Mr. Lind's free speech privileges didn't extend to his work as a public school employee. He had no 'right' or obligation to quote the Bible to public school students.