ACLU brings lawsuit against Brownsburg schools

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INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 20, 2015) – The ACLU of Indiana is bringing a lawsuit on behalf of two Brownsburg school cafeteria workers, Tina Gracey and Brenda Farnsworth, who say they were punished for joining a Facebook group that opposed the district’s recent school levy.

A group called ‘Brownsburg Residents for Fiscal Responsibility’ opposed the school levy, which failed back in May.

One of the employees wrote of the tax levy:  “I feel that this is just a band-aid and that there are more referendums in our future if this passes!”

“They expressed their opinion via Facebook,” said ACLU of Indiana senior attorney Gavin Rose. “And as a result of that, both of them were disciplined by the school and we think that that’s a gross violation of their first amendment rights.”

“I felt violated, first of all. My first amendment right has been violated.” said Gracey in an interview with CBS4. “I think more people need to know that they shouldn’t be afraid to speak out against something like that.”

“It’s a sad state of affairs when a school takes that personally enough that it decides it has to punish its own employees,” said Rose.

School officials said Tuesday that they just learned of the lawsuit and couldn’t comment on the pending litigation.

“There was nothing wrong with the comments that I made,” said Gracey. “I stand behind my beliefs and I mean if they want to fire me, I’m sure they would have more questions to answer.”

The ACLU of Indiana has posted a copy of the lawsuit on its web site.

The case was filed this week in U.S. District Court.

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