Diane Cleveland, a Minnesota teacher in Anoka Hennepin district's "Secondary Technical Education Program" who went on leave after the school paid a $25,000 settlement to the family of a boy allegedly being harassed by Cleveland and another teacher because of his perceived sexual orientation, has spoken out through a lawyer.
Cleveland allegedly told the class "[the boy's] fence swings both ways" and said, also before the entire class, that the boy had a "thing for older men" after he proposed doing a report on Ben Franklin. The boy, Alex Merritt, says he is not gay.
The Star Tribune reports: "An Anoka-Hennepin teacher who was disciplined for harassing a
student she thought was gay 'steadfastly' denied Thursday that she ever
harassed or intended to harass a student, according to her attorney. 'She does not in any way acknowledge harassing anybody,' said Phil Villaume, the attorney for teacher Diane Cleveland. Villaume was responding to documents obtained from the school
district by the Star Tribune that include more information about the
district's investigation of Cleveland, the discipline that followed and
an account of the teacher's defense of her actions to a district
According to the school district, other students indepently verified Merritt's claims during its investigation.