Cidney Fisk filed a lawsuit (pdf) Monday, September 25, 2017, against the Delta County Joint School District 50J for sabotaging her grades and college scholarship opportunities because of opinions she expressed publicly while in their school system, and due to her atheistic beliefs. She is seeking compensatory and punitive damages for economic and emotional distress.
Cidney appeared on the front page of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel on April 1, 2016, criticizing the Delta County School District (DCSD) for persistent Christian proselytizing on school grounds during school hours. After she was quoted in the paper, her counselors threatened to tank her college scholarships and her teachers gave her failing grades. Cidney was an A+ student throughout her time in high school, was on the debate team, served in student government as treasurer, wrote for the school paper and had amassed over 400 hours of community service by the time she was a senior.
Pervasive Proselytizing in the Delta County School District
Thanks in large part to Cidney speaking out, the proselytizing inside the Delta County School District drew scrutiny from local news outlets, more people started speaking out about it and it became well-documented.
The Delta County School District facilitated the distribution of Gideon bibles to students on school grounds during class time, and brought in controversial abstinence-only-before-marriage Christian missionary Shelly Donahue to give “sex ed” talks to high school students. Donahue’s talk violated state law regarding the teaching of sex ed because Donahue omitted mandatory information on topics like sexually transmitted diseases and the use and side effects of various contraceptive methods. Donahue’s talks were funded by the Delta Pregnancy Resource Center, a Christian missionary group operated by Delta Christian Church. Delta High School allowed youth pastors to roam the halls during school hours, and allowed the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to meet during class time. A student at Delta Middle School revealed that her public school forced her to watch a play about the baby Jesus at Christmas time, even though she said she felt it was inappropriate and asked to opt out. Delta Middle School also allowed a teacher, Dan Dunham, to hold bible classes in his own classroom and give doughnuts to the students who showed up. The sessions were called “Doughnuts with Dunham.” The school put a stop to “Doughnuts with Dunham” only after the Freedom From Religion Foundation threatened the District with legal action over it. The bible sessions in Dunham’s classroom on Wednesday mornings ended, but after the threat passed they resumed in a different room, on a different day and led by a different person, and doughnuts remained a feature of the meetings. The family of a middle school student also complained to Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers that a Delta Middle School teacher quoted the bible in class, told her class that “non Christians are bad people,” and “The bombers aren’t Christians.” After the student questioned the teacher’s pronouncements and protested other incidents of proselytizing on school grounds during class time, the family started being harassed. Their home was TP’ed and the student received a credible death threat. That family moved out of state to prevent their daughter from having to attend Delta High School and face both more proselytizing and retaliation for complaining about it.
Cidney and her family have been similarly harassed. The many ways the DCSD violated Cidney’s rights, and those of other public school students, is also documented at this link.
Here are additional links on the subject of the Delta County School District:
Delta County School Board Rips Off Kids, April 9, 2016
The Delta County School District Has Lots to Answer For, March 30, 2016
Text of the lawsuit Fisk vs. Delta County Joint School District 50J, filed 9/25/17 in U.S. District Court (pdf)