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Parents claim political bias motivated Cheshire Academy discipline

Parents claim political bias motivated Cheshire Academy discipline

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CHESHIRE — A West Hartford couple is suing Cheshire Academy over the expulsion of their sophomore son, claiming the decision was in response to him espousing conservative political views. 

The lawsuit, filed in Hartford Superior Court, was served to school officials Wednesday and names two top officials: Julie Anderson, head of schools, and Wesley Simon, the school dean. 

The lawsuit, first reported by the Connecticut Law Tribune, alleges breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation and defamation.  

Theodore and Sonia Mancini filed the suit against the prestigious private school on behalf of their son Michael Mancini, who had been recruited to attend the school and join its football team. The lawsuit says fellow students criticized and verbally attacked Michael Mancini because of his conservative views. 

Anderson, while refusing to discuss specific individual student issues, drafted a letter to Cheshire Academy parents about the incident.

“As some of  you may be aware, earlier this week, following a fair process, a student was expelled,” Anderson wrote. “This student was given a number of chances to adhere to our expectations, and the rules and code of conduct of Cheshire Academy. Contrary to what you may have read, our decision was not based on an opposition to political dialogue.”

West Hartford attorney James Sullivan, who represents the family, couldn’t be reached for comment Friday. He told the Law Tribune that Cheshire Academy expelled Mancini last May 15, one day after his father unveiled a website, “The Real Cheshire Academy,” detailing the school’s disciplinary action against his son.

According to the April 15 lawsuit, Cheshire Academy football coach David Dykeman assured the family that the academy is an all-inclusive community that would tolerate conservative views. The family relied on those assurances and enrolled their son in 2018, the suit said. 

During a class discussion about Shakepeare’s play “Twelfth Night,” Michael Mancini made general observations about sexual identity and the lack of acceptance of transgenderism in England up until the 20th Century.

According to Theodore Mancini’s website,“The teacher continued on by stating that ‘some people legitimately identify as a man or women or non-binary.”  His son responded by saying that “If a man thinks he is a woman or a woman a man, it shows legitimate hormonal or mental disorder. Although those that identify as things such as Demi-Queer Fox-Kin are just looking for attention,” according to the elder Mancini’s website. 

He claimed two classmates started “verbally attacking (Michael Mancini) for his opinions.”

 According to the lawsuit, the English teacher had a private discussion with Michael Mancini about how to steer clear of language that can upset others. During the discussion, Mancini said that he was fine with homosexuals being married but was opposed to any church or religious organizations performing the ceremonies, the lawsuit said.

The complaint also detailed an incident in a mandatory Martin Luther King Jr. workshop. Mancini said “obviously I am black” when asked to say “something that is obvious about your identity.” The lawsuit says the response was “an attempt at making a joke” and said Mancini apologized. 

The lawsuit claims a teacher reported the comment to administrators despite telling students nothing said would “leave the room.” Cheshire Academy suspended Mancini for five days and told the family it would not renew the contract allowing him to attend until he graduated, according to the complaint. 

Anderson said administrators typically refrain from discussing situations involving minors or sharing information about student behavior and discipline.

 “However, in this case, the family of the student has taken to various public forums and media to air their version on events,” she said.
Twitter: @Cconnbiz