From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Jury awards former DePauw University instructor over $10,000

From "NewsDesk" <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Thu, 13 Nov 2003 17:03:22 -0600

Nov. 13, 2004 News media contact: Kathy Gilbert7(615)742-54707Nashville,
Tenn.  7   E-mail: 7 ALL {551}

GREENCASTLE, Ind. (UMNS)--An Indiana court has ruled that DePauw University
did not properly follow its faculty handbook when the United Methodist school
suspended the teaching duties of a part-time instructor after she distributed
religious materials in her classroom.

Janis Price, who remains an administrator in the school's education
department, was awarded $10,401 in damages after a five-day trial. The
monetary award is the amount of her lost wages as an instructor for a year.  

Ken Owens, director of media relations for DePauw, said the case was about
contract law and not about religious freedom. He said the university will
file an appeal to clarify its employment policies.

Price was a part-time instructor at DePauw until July 2001. Her teaching
duties were suspended after a student complained that issues of the magazine
Teachers in Focus were being made available in the classroom. The magazine
was published by Focus on the Family, a Colorado-based ministry.

The six-member jury unanimously ruled that DePauw University did not follow
its academic handbook, Price told United Methodist News Service. "The reason
they did not follow their academic handbook was religious harassment," she

Price says she has received support from Christians across the country after
articles about her suit were published in a variety of media. 

Owens says the jury misinterpreted the handbook and its contents. Price is an
administrative employee and not a "term" employee. 

"We are not trying to prolong things for her or for us," Owens said. "But a
jury of lay persons was called upon to determine contract law, and we feel
the jurists erred in their ruling. We feel it has significant ramifications
for our employment policies."

In March, Putnam Circuit Court Judge Diana LaViolette dismissed Price's
claims that DePauw violated her freedom of speech, freedom of religion and
academic freedom. 

DePauw University is one of 124 schools, colleges and universities related to
the United Methodist Church.


United Methodist News Service
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