The assistant principal at Gulf Coast High School in Naples, Florida, allegedly threatened a teacher with termination over the teacher’s involvement with a pro-life student group on campus. After receiving a demand letter from a law firm threatening to sue the school district for viewpoint discrimination, the school says that it will approve the pro-life group.
Students for Life of America and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) sent a demand letter last week calling on Gulf Coast High School (GCHS) to approve the school’s Students for Life group, as well as “change their policies district-wide to ensure that no other student faces similar discrimination,” according to the organization.
The pro-life organization told Breitbart News in a statement that an application to start the group “Sharks 4 Life” was denied by Gulf Coast administrators, adding that one of the teachers, Linda Cassidy, was threatened with termination after meeting with the school’s assistant principal, Catherine Crawford-Brown about approving the pro-life group.
“At the meeting, Ms. Crawford-Brown also made pointed remarks numerous times that if Ms. Cassidy continued to try and be a faculty advisor, she could lose her job,” alleges the demand letter. “Specifically, she stated at one point, ‘you better watch it, Linda.'”
“Ms. Crawford-Brown made these remarks even though she knew that the club needed a faculty advisor to be approved,” the letter continues. “Because of these remarks, Ms. Cassidy stated that day that she did not want to be an advisor for Sharks 4 Life.”
The letter goes on to allege that when Cassidy later informed a second teacher, Linda Townsend, of what had been said to her at the meeting, Townsend also withdrew her application to be the pro-life group’s faculty advisor.
“Ms. Cassidy relayed what Ms. Crawford-Brown said at that meeting to Ms. Townsend,” states the letter. “Ms. Townsend is a single mom and was afraid that she would lose her job, so she told Ms. Cassidy that she was withdrawing as a faculty advisor. Soon after, she sent an email to Ms. Crawford-Brown and Principal Mikuslki confirming her withdrawal.”
Gulf Coast High School, however, denies these allegations, stating that the assistant principal never met with the two potential faculty advisors regarding the approval of the pro-life group.
“The assistant principal never met with two faculty advisors about the opening of the club,” said a GCHS spokesperson to Breitbart News. “She met with a member of the non-instructional staff who supported the club and two students. At no time did the assistant principal threaten anyone with job loss.”
“The faculty member who originally agreed to serve as a faculty advisor to the club informed the Principal on September 4 that she had decided not to do so,” the spokesperson added. “The assistant principal has never spoken with this faculty member about this matter.”
Students for Life, however, contends that while assistant principal Crawford-Brown did not meet with both faculty advisors, she did meet with one.
“Thank you for meeting with Linda, Ava, and myself today,” said the pro-life group’s student president to Crawford-Brown in an email obtained by Breitbart News. Students for Life told Breitbart News that the correspondence was a follow-up email after the meeting with GCHS’ assistant principal — with “Linda” referring to faculty advisor Linda Cassidy.
“I just want to summarize what we discussed,” added the student in her email. “You explained that Gulf Coast does not want to be known as either pro-life or pro-choice that it could cause parental upset. You do not suspect that they will allow us the opportunity to have a pro-life club at Gulf Coast.”
Nonetheless, GCHS maintains that the school had never refused approval of the pro-life group.
“The claim that Gulf Coast High School administrators ever refused to allow the opening of the Sharks 4 Life Club is simply wrong,” affirmed the GCHS spokesperson to Breitbart News. “The claim that the club is not recognized by GCHS is wrong.”
“GCHS, like other District high schools, has a plethora of clubs on site that include faith-based clubs, non-faith based clubs, and so on that meet at lunch or after school with their respective faculty sponsors,” the spokesperson added. “District policy encourages such club participation.”
“Gulf Coast High School has been and is ready to open the club,” said the spokesperson. “The Principal will be reaching out to students interested in forming the Sharks 4 Life Club on Monday and finding a sponsoring faculty member.”