PHILADELPHIA – Oley Valley School District is facing a defamation lawsuit, among other claims, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for disciplining students after they made negative comments about the high school's drama director.
Plaintiffs Jordan Eck, Haley Hartline and Vincent Ferrizzi sued defendant Oley Valley School District in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on May 1.
Hartline and Eck were members of the school’s drama club since their first day at Oley Valley High School. Eck was the club’s vice president for two years before he was elected president at the end of the 2018 school year, the lawsuit says.
In preparation for the school show, it was revealed that Eck wanted to attend a school board meeting to discuss his issues with the play’s director, Stacy Lyons, the suit says.
After learning of Eck’s intentions, Lyons received the green light from the superintendent to send what the plaintiffs described as a defamatory email about Eck and his mother, claiming they wanted to sabotage the show by speaking against Lyons, the suit says.
The email said it was Eck's ultimate goal to have the school show eliminated completely, the suit says.
The plaintiffs all spoke against Lyons at the school board meeting. Shortly after, Lyons locked down the rehearsal and asked what the plaintiffs said about her, the suit claims.
Eck then had a conversation with Lyons and was suspended the next day, the suit says. He was accused of “insubordination” after the teacher accused him of lunging at her, the suit says, while Hartline was also suspended and Ferrizzi was removed from school grounds during the cleanup portion of the show.
The plaintiffs are suing for retaliation and violation of their 14th Amendment due process rights. Eck also sued the school for defamation, stating that Lyons sent the email as an agent for the school district. He also pointed to his three-day suspension as defamation as he was accused of physical and erratic behavior.