2nd Anoka-Hennepin teacher accused of harassment sues

  • Updated: December 23, 2010 - 9:30 PM

A second Anoka-Hennepin School District teacher, who was disciplined after he and another teacher were accused of harassing a student they thought was gay, sued the Minnesota Department of Human Rights on Thursday for releasing his name.

The lawsuit, filed in Ramsey County District Court on behalf of Walter Filson of Brooklyn Center, says the Department of Human Rights violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act and invaded his privacy when it published a summary of its completed investigation on its website in August 2009 and sent a copy to the Star Tribune. The suit also said the department was negligent because it never interviewed Filson during its investigation.

In June 2009, the Anoka-Hennepin district paid a $25,000 settlement to student Alex Merritt and his family after the Human Rights Department found probable cause that Filson and fellow teacher Diane Cleveland had harassed Merritt, who is not gay, because they thought he was.

Cleveland sued the Human Rights Department last year, saying the state's Human Rights Act is supposed to protect the names of those in an investigation, except for the complainant and respondent. She asked for at least $50,000 in damages, plus expenses.

In July, Ramsey County District Judge Dale Lindman ruled that the department should not have disclosed Cleveland's name. The state has appealed.

Filson's lawsuit also asks for at least $50,000, plus expenses. He has been on an unpaid leave since August 2009, the lawsuit said.

PAT PHEIFER

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