LIBERTY TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- A Lakota Schools teacher suspended and scheduled for possible firing is suing the Butler County school system in federal court for allegedly targeting her after she publicly argued for expanded rights for transgender students, WCPO news partner The Journal-News reported.
Emilly Osterling, a special needs teacher who worked at Liberty Junior School, was suspended earlier this month without pay by the Lakota Board of Education.
Osterling filed a lawsuit this week in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati alleging she is being punished for publicly supporting an expansion of transgender students rights.
Osterling, who has worked for Lakota Schools since 2001, claims in the lawsuit the board’s stated intention to fire her at next week’s scheduled meeting is being done in retaliation for her stance and opinions shared with the board during a December 2017 public meeting concerning adopting an expanded policy of rights for transgender students.
The board’s recent resolution stating its intentions to end her employment was a violation of Osterling’s free speech rights and was “intentional, reckless and malicious,” she claims in the filing.
Earlier this month, board members approved a resolution listing district officials’ allegations against Osterling and their claims that she failed in meeting some of her professional duties with 18 special needs students dating back to 2016.
Board members, who voted 4-0 to pass the resolution with member Todd Parnell absent, said they are considering firing Osterling from the Butler County school district in response to a recommendation by Lakota Superintendent Matt Miller.
Osterling has been a prominent Lakota teachers union official and a National Education Association (NEA) board member and co-chair of the NEA’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus.
The expanded policy she argued for was defeated by the board, but district officials said they would create a new Lakota Schools office to address the concerns of students’ with varying sexual orientation.
Osterling, who earned $73,788 annually, declined to comment Wednesday on her lawsuit, deferring to her attorney who was not immediately available to comment.
Lakota Schools Spokeswoman Betsy Fuller said Wednesday “because this situation is somewhat unique in that the board is pursuing termination proceedings against an employee, and a lawsuit has been filed, we are unable to comment further on this matter.”
Lakota’s five, elected school board members — all of whom are named in the lawsuit — did not respond to requests to comment.
The Journal-News is a media partner of WCPO.com.