Anti-gay teacher loses NJ credentials but still gets $133K settlement
UNION TOWNSHIP (Union) — A high school teacher who made headlines years ago for posting anti-gay comments on her Facebook page has obtained $132,500 for ending a federal lawsuit against this township's school district.
The settlement was reached despite Jenye "Viki" Knox agreeing to let state regulators strip her of her teaching credentials for three years.
In agreeing to the settlement, which was first brought to light Tuesday by open-government advocate John Paff, neither Knox nor the school district admitted to wrongdoing. Most lawsuits against public agencies end in similar settlements.
Knox was suspended and after she went online in 2011 and called homosexuality a "perverted spirit" and a "sin" that "breeds like cancer." She also criticized a display marking Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender History Month.
The district said she emailed school officials to accuse gay and lesbian teachers of "targeting young an impressionable student for indoctrination into alternative sexual lifestyles."
Her lawsuit argued that the posts expressed her religious beliefs and were made when she was not on duty.
The lawsuit claimed district officials "interrogated" her and that she "felt extremely intimidated" because they "pressured" her "to say that her religious beliefs were wrong."
She said she was forced to resign in 2012 after suffering "stress of the intimidation, harassment, and emotional distress."
The settlement compensates Knox with $63,833 for emotional distress, $24,500 for back wages and $44,167 for attorney's fees and costs.
The state Department of Education had sought to revoke Knox's teaching credentials but Knox proposed a three-year suspension, which the Board of Examiners accepted in December.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.