Reagan Reese, DCNF
A 14-year-old girl was expelled from a Florida school and transferred to another in January 2022 after her mother spoke out against a gender identity survey taken in school, according to a lawsuit filed by her parents.
Rebecca Yuengling’s daughter was allegedly removed from Cypress Creek High School in Pasco County School District and transferred to Sunlake High School in the Pasco County School District because Yuengling had complained to the school about a gender identity questionnaire given to the students, according to the Aug. 5 lawsuit. Rebecca and Richard Yuengling are suing the Pasco County school board, sheriff’s office, Sheriff Chris Nocco and Browning for allegedly punishing their daughter for Rebecca’s actions and not allowing the parents the opportunity to appeal the expulsion.
The questionnaire, obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation, asked students if they had a preferred name and what their pronouns were. The document also asked students if their teacher can use their preferred name and pronouns with “caregivers” and other teachers.
Rebecca Yuengling allegedly sent the district roughly 500 pages of emails, made phone calls, public statements and posted on social media about the questionnaire, according to the lawsuit. In an email to Yuengling obtained by the DCNF, Superintendent Kurt Browning alleged that because of Yuengling’s behavior, one teacher decided to take leave and not return to the district.
At a Aug. 8 hearing, Judge Mary Scriven ruled that the Yuenglings’ daughter was not given due process and could return to Cypress Creek High School after being transferred, attorney Jonathan O’Brien told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“At the hearing the decision was made to allow the kid to go back to school because there was no due process,” O’Brien told the DCNF. “The superintendent committed two constitutional violations. One, he retaliated against the mother by going after the kid and removing her from their school. That’s free speech retaliation. Then number two, when the father asked for an appeal, the superintendent incorrectly and illegally said my decision is, quote, final and non appealable, which is in our papers and it’s exhibited. That also turned out to be false. So the kid is back in school today.”
Browning characterized Yuengling’s emails as “not only harassing in nature to administration staff but also disruptive to the learning environment,” and was the cause of her daughter being transferred out of the school district.
Yuengling told the DCNF that the expulsion negatively affected her daughter as she was forced to change schools.
“She said to me that she felt like she got taken from her home and her family and moved to a strange place,” Yuengling said. “She knew the one over there. It’s not like the family moves or you change houses and you expect to go to a new school. She didn’t have any of that warning. It was just a letter. I’m sure she’ll say was the roughest patch of her life. For me as her mother it was definitely the most worried I’ve ever been.”
Pasco County School District declined the DCNF’s request for comment.
Richard Yuengling was demoted and placed under investigation by the Pasco County Sheriff’s Department where he worked, according to the lawsuit states. Yuengling was allegedly placed under investigation because he allegedly filed a court injunction against the school while “wearing his uniform.”
“Not only did the school district go after the kids, they went after the father,” O’Brien told the DCNF. “We need to get to the bottom of the extent to which the sheriff’s office colluded with the school district to take out the father essentially who was a sheriff’s deputy.”
Richard Yuengling chose to resign from the sheriff’s department to allegedly avoid “additional adverse consequences and unfounded disciplinary complaints that could have placed his pension in jeopardy,” the lawsuit said.
“My intention was to just help my daughter. It’s not like I’m trying to hide anything we’re doing. I let people know I’m trying to help my daughter here,” Richard Yuengling told the DCNF.
Pasco County Sheriff’s Department, Browning and Nocco did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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