home > newsroom
ACLU of Utah Defends High School Teacher
Before the Utah Supreme Court
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 2, 2002
SALT LAKE CITY -- On Thursday, October 3 at 10:30 am, the Utah Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Citizens of Nebo School District v. Weaver, the 1997 lawsuit that was brought by a group of Utah County citizens seeking to have Ms. Weaver banned from teaching.
Ms. Weaver, a long-time teacher at Spanish Fork High School and a lesbian, gained national attention when she successfully sued the Nebo County School District for requiring her to sign a gag order prohibiting her from discussing her sexual orientation in or outside the classroom. The citizens argue that because Ms. Weaver had the courage to stand up to blatant discrimination, she should not be allowed to teach.
The American Civil Liberties of Utah defended her from the lawsuit and in March 1999, the Fourth District Judge granted the ACLU’s motion to dismiss almost all of the citizens’ claims. The citizens asked the Utah Supreme Court to reverse the district court decision.
At stake in this case is whether citizens can sue an individual teacher when the agencies charged with the responsibility of regulating the teaching profession have not taken action against the teacher.
"The citizens are now essentially asking the Utah Supreme Court to do what the experts at both the Division of Professional Licensing and the state school board refused to do - forbid Weaver from teaching school" said Stephen Clark, cooperating attorney for the ACLU of Utah. Stephen Clark will present oral argument Thursday before the Utah Supreme Court.
"A few members of a community, motivated by personal prejudice, and unhappy about thoughtful decisions rendered by the appropriate boards and agencies closest to the matter, seek to circumvent the established process and demand the removal from public position someone not to their liking. A ruling in their favor would create a sort of vigilantism that is unacceptable in our society of well-ordered process. The Utah Supreme Court will no doubt correctly view the complaint as being without merit" observed Dani Eyer, incoming ACLU of Utah director.