The lawsuit states that, in the summer of 2006, the counselor took four teenage girls from the Orangewood Children's Home on an approved field trip to a 5K run and then to the beach. At the beach, the group encountered a "Surf Jam" taking place at the Huntington Beach pier. The group also overheard Christian music for about ten minutes while they were eating.
Following the beach outing, the counselor, an eighteen-year employee, was summoned to a disciplinary meeting focusing on the Christian music. Several months later, the same incident was brought up again and the counselor was slapped with a six-week suspension for "exposing children to unapproved religious activities."
After many months of exhausting state administrative remedies, the counselor filed suit late last week in Orange County Superior Court to recover the financial losses she suffered from the suspension and to vindicate her constitutional rights. The counselor is represented by John and Laurie Messerly Stewart, attorneys in Orange, California, and the Pacific Justice Institute.
Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, commented, "What happened to this counselor was insane and unjust. Allowing teenagers to overhear a few minutes of Christian music while at the beach should not result in a six-week suspension."