Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lawsuit: Principal's Email Proselytized on the Job; Also Says Bannerman's Linda Turner Sent Emails Criticizing the President

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lawsuit: Principal's Email Proselytized on the Job; Also Says Bannerman's Linda Turner Sent Emails Criticizing the President

Article excerpt

Byline: Topher Sanders

A Clay County school district principal used her work and personal email to proselytize and espouse her political views, including sending emails that called President Barack Obama a "jackass" and joked Obama had cousins in the Taliban, according to a lawsuit filed against the school system and the principal.

Patrick Capriola, an assistant principal at Bannerman Learning Center, claims Bannerman principal Linda Turner and the district violated the U.S. Constitution and his right to "be free of state-sponsored religion."

The suit comes in the middle of another public skirmish the district is having over religion involving flagpole prayers on the grounds of four elementary schools. District officials and its legal team have talked for weeks about the need to stop the flagpole prayers to avoid another costly lawsuit.

In the meantime, Capriola filed his suit in U.S. District Court on Nov. 18.

Turner and Clay Superintendent Ben Wortham did not return inquires for comment.

Capriola said he wanted to consult with his attorney before speaking on the suit publicly.

School Board member Frank Farrell said the board has given its attorney the power to seek outside counsel to respond to the suit.

In his suit, Capriola says Turner used her position as principal to impose her religious and political views on him and other employees at Bannerman.

Capriola claims that on at least 16 occasions, Capriola sent emails to him and the school's faculty asking recipients to pray, have faith in God and making them aware of religious-based petitions.

Turner also sent an email critical of Obama's health care legislation and another making disparaging references to illegal immigrants, according to Capriola.

Nearly all the emails are from Turner's work address and nearly all of them are forwarded emails.

Capriola says in the suit that he is religious but also believes people in public employment should not be subjected to proselytizing or endorsement and promotion of religion during their work day or by their bosses.

PRAYER FIGHT ONGOING

In another tiff over religion, it appears that the district and Green Cove Springs pastor Ron Baker of Russell Baptist Church have reached an agreement on the flagpole prayer issue that would have Baker praying off campus. …

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