March 1, 2005
By United Methodist News Service
case involving a United Methodist-related university and a college
instructor who claims she was unjustly removed from her part-time
teaching position is entering another round of legal proceedings.
January, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in favor of DePauw
University and overturned a jury’s verdict in favor of Janis Price, a
DePauw employee who has worked in the education department for more than
15 years. Price has filed an appeal.
a trial in October 2003, a jury awarded Price $10,401 in damages. At
that time, the jury ruled DePauw did not properly follow policies in its
faculty handbook when reducing her duties.
Price sued the university, claiming DePauw had cut her teaching duties
because of her religious views. She maintains she was reassigned and
incurred a $10,000 pay cut because she had distributed anti-homosexual
magazines in her classroom.
argued that its decision to change Price’s duties was the result of
both declining enrollments in the teacher education program and regular
and special reviews of her performance.
decision represents total vindication of DePauw,” said John T.
Neighbours, the attorney who defended the university. “This ruling
affirms that all of her claims were without merit and that DePauw acted
legally, properly and honorably.”
to a statement from the university, the ruling by the Indiana Court of
Appeals determined that the trial judge should have awarded summary
judgment for DePauw and that there should not even have been a trial. As
a result, the trial judge’s denial of summary judgment is reversed and
the damages and costs awarded to Price are reversed as well.
was a part-time instructor at DePauw until July 2001, when her
responsibility for teaching one class was not extended by the
university. She remains an administrator in DePauw’s education
of my titles were stripped from me, but I continue to do the work that
those titles carried with them,” Price said. “I feel a sense of
professional responsibility and personal integrity that I need to stay
to help the students as they are coming through our program.”
Price, a member of Independent Christian Church, said she feels she is being harassed because of her religious beliefs.
March 2001, Price made available to her students four issues of
Teachers in Focus magazine, published by Focus on the Family. One of the
magazines contained an article advising teachers on how to confront
homosexuality in public schools. Price says students were not told they
had to pick them up and the magazines were not part of an assignment. A
student in the class filed a complaint.
Christians are harassed and discriminated against in the workplace, I
think sometimes it is appropriate for them to leave but others times it
is not. It certainly would have been easier for me to have left DePauw,
but how in the world are Christians going to make a difference in our
culture if we are not light and salt in that culture?”
March 2003, Putnam Circuit Court Judge Diana LaViolette dismissed
Price’s claims that DePauw violated her freedom of speech, freedom of
religion and academic freedom. The Clay County jury was asked only to
decide whether DePauw violated its faculty handbook in the way it
handled Price’s reappointment, and ruled in her favor. The Jan. 10
decision from the Indiana Court of Appeals reverses that ruling and
affirms DePauw’s argument that it followed proper procedure in the
handling of the matter.
Court of Appeals also rejected Price’s claim that the lower court
inappropriately dismissed her claim of religious harassment.
Indiana Court of Appeals affirms what we have maintained from the
beginning: that DePauw scrupulously followed its employment policies and
practices every step of the way in this matter,” said Ken Owen,
director of media relations at DePauw.
Price maintains she “wants the truth to be known and the Lord to be honored through all of this.”
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.