INDIANAPOLIS – The former CEO of Edison School of the Arts has sued his former employer in a federal lawsuit alleging he was illegally terminated, and former co-workers defamed him in the process.
Nathan Tuttle was fired from his position on March 14 after accusations of him saying a racial slur while disciplining a student for saying the same word, spurred a special vote by the board.
The board said Tuttle was originally placed on administrative leave for repeating a racial slur while disciplining a student for saying the same word.
Tuttle claimed he repeated the slur to emphasize that the word was used in violation of the school’s code of conduct.
“Under Tuttle’s leadership, a significant divide has developed amongst students, parents, faculty and the staff of the school,” said Board Member Ernest Disney-Britton.
“I think the board took a great step in the right direction tonight but that is not where the focus needs to be,” said mother of three Kori Durham following the vote to remove Tuttle.
On March 2nd, Tuttle was alleged to have spoken with a male student who he said used the “n-word.” Tuttle said he immediately approached the student and told him the language violated school policy and had the student report to the learning center for detention.
The student reportedly then asked Tuttle to repeat what the boy had said. Tuttle then repeated the “n-word” back and said any form of the word violated the code of conduct.
On March 3, while Tuttle was on administrative leave there was reportedly a protest at the school that Tuttle claimed was organized by teachers and staff.
Tuttle further claimed some students began chanting “homophobic slurs” directed toward him and that a staff member who refused to allow their students to participate in the protest was reprimanded.
The filing included an image of a colored sign, Tuttle claimed was created on school property with a crossed-out image of Tuttle that read:
“SHOULDN’T HAVE SAID IT PERIOD. DIDN’T APOLOGIZE AT ALL!!!”
Tuttle also alleged the signs were distributed, hung and carried during the protest and the school’s principal knew and allowed the signs to be displayed.
In the filing, Tuttle stated he was given an employee contract for a term of three years and “statutory due process” if his contract were to be terminated.
Edison also adopted a policy providing Tuttle with a “right to cure” if the Board of Directors determined that his performance was unsatisfactory.
Tuttle claimed he was denied the opportunity to address any of the issues raised at the board meeting on March 7. During the meeting, he said several people gave false representations about what happened on the day of the incident.
He was terminated on March 14 after a special session vote on the matter.
Edison School of the Arts is part of IPS’ innovation network. Tuttle is not an IPS employee and not on the payroll.