Parents Sue School District, Claim Parental Rights Were Undermined Due to Catholic Faith

Edwin O. Smith High School
John Phelan/Wikimedia

Parents are suing a Connecticut public school district and the state Department of Children and Families (DCF), arguing officials from both undermined their parental rights, interfered in their relationship with their daughter, who claims to be lesbian, and harassed them because of their Catholic faith.

In two separate lawsuits, the parents, known as Jane and John Doe, are suing E.O. Smith High School officials in Mansfield and DCF, seeking $1 million in damages.

According to the Journal Inquirer, the parents allege school officials claimed the girl was mistreated by her parents because of their Catholic faith. Court documents state school staff “engaged in a tireless campaign to undermine and sabotage (their) parental rights,” causing the destruction of their relationship with her.

Similar allegations were made in the lawsuit against DCF. The parents claim the school reported them to the child protection agency “without any rational basis” and indoctrinated their daughter “into believing her parents mistreated her.”

Their daughter, who is now 18, is not a party to either lawsuit.

Breitbart News reached out for comment to the office of attorney Ashling Soares, who represents the parents, but received no response prior to publication.

The lawsuit against the school district names the Board of Education for Regional School District 19, Superintendent Jill Krieger, and E.O. Smith Principal Louis Deloreto.

According to the Journal Inquirer, the parents allege Morgan Perry, E.O. Smith High School guidance counselor, reported the parents to DCF in September 2017 after having met with their daughter every day in the wake of a poem she wrote in which she expressed suicidal ideation.

Though the parents were informed about the poem, they were not aware their daughter was meeting on a daily basis with Perry.

According to the school’s suicide prevention policy, when a student is assessed to be “at risk” for suicide, the “designated staff member shall notify the student’s parent/guardian and request a meeting with them as soon as possible, preferably that same day.”

The policy continues that the designated staff member “shall meet” with parents to discuss the situation and need for medical or mental health intervention. The parents are also requested to sign a release of information form to allow communication between the school and medical or mental health provider.

School staff, however, reportedly did not follow the policy.

The Journal Inquirer reports:

In direct contravention of the school’s policy … neither Perry nor the school’s principal, Deloreto, arranged for a suicide risk evaluation after assessing the girl to be at risk, according to the lawsuit.

It was during those meetings with Perry that the daughter alleged her parents yelled at her and her father pushed her because they didn’t agree with her identifying as a lesbian. Perry then reported the allegation to DCF — an allegation that the daughter later admitted was false — without speaking first with the parents.

During the investigation, the parents say they repeatedly told a DCF social worker they were only angry with their daughter’s “extreme misbehavior,” which included drug and alcohol use, not her sexuality.

According to the DCF lawsuit, the parents say the agency never investigated the alleged physical violence toward their daughter. Rather, DCF documented the parents are “extremely religious,” hold “unwavering” beliefs, and are “rigid and controlling.”

The parents also allege that another DCF social worker harassed them repeatedly because of their Catholic faith, asking them questions such as whether they would attend their daughter’s wedding if she married another woman.

According to the report, the DCF worker told the parents they should “go with the times” and “evolve their religion.”

Despite the parents’ “vehement objection” and the DCF investigation’s conclusion of “unsubstantiated” allegations, the state decided to place the girl in a foster home — that of E.O. Smith track coach Cassandra Rowett.

Assistant Attorney General Stephen Vitelli, who is representing DCF in the lawsuit, has filed a motion for dismissal, claiming the state is immune from lawsuits.

The Journal Inquirer notes additional court documentation regarding the school’s interference in the parents’ relationship with their daughter, including the allegation that Perry helped their daughter apply to ten colleges and universities without her parents’ knowledge or approval.

They further claim E.O. Smith High School Athletic Director Daniel Uriano attempted “to evict the parents from an event that their daughter was present at — that event is redacted in the lawsuit — by threatening to call the police if they didn’t leave, even after admitting the parents weren’t engaging in any wrongful conduct.”

The parents’ attorney has filed motions to seal court files in both lawsuits from the public.

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