Adviser settles lawsuit against school; terms confidential, lawyer says

INDIANA — A student newspaper adviser who claimed his First Amendment rights were violated when he was suspended from his position settled a lawsuit out of court with the school district last month.

Chad Tuley was removed as adviser of Pilot Flashes, Franklin Central High School’s newspaper, after the paper published an article about a student arrested on murder charges.

"We’re happier now than we were beforehand and we’re glad that it’s over," said Tuley’s lawyer, Ed Delaney, of the settlement.

Delaney said the settlement was confidential and would not discuss it.

The student paper has a new adviser, according to a secretary at the school.

Tuley said he is on sabbatical leave indefinitely. He said he wants to teach journalism again, but he could not say whether or not he would teach at Franklin Central again.

“I’m just happy the issue is resolved,” Tuley said. “I still think teaching journalism is a worthwhile endeavor.”

School board officials have said that Principal Kevin Koers told Tuley not to print the article about the student arrested on murder charges. Officials said Koers was concerned because the sister of the student facing charges, who also attended the school.

Tuley acknowledged Koers’ reservations but said he was never told not to publish the story.

After the article was printed the school district suspended Tuley with pay for a week and removed him as adviser, citing insubordination.

Tuley initially accepted his removal out of concern over his teaching position. He decided to seek reinstatement after his students asked him to fight the decision.

"When I got back [from the suspension] I had a letter that was slid under my door," Tuley told the SPLC in a past article. "It was signed, ‘Your faithful Students,’ and they were arguing all the reasons why I should fight for my job back so I began to really think about that."

Tuley sent letters to Superintendent E.B. Carver and Koers asking for reinstatement but was not given an answer. He remained an English teacher at Franklin Central until he received a negative teaching evaluation focusing mainly on his decision to print the murder story.

He decided to take legal action when the district reassigned him to the middle school, which Tuley saw as punishment.

by Clay Gaynor, SPLC staff writer

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