Ex-Science Director Sues Over 'Neutral' Policy on Intelligent Design

A former science curriculum director for the Texas Education Agency, who lost her job for violating a policy that required employees to be neutral on creationism, has filed a federal lawsuit to have the policy declared unconstitutional.

Christina Comer alleges in the suit that she was forced to resign last year after forwarding an e-mail that promoted a lecture by a speaker who opposed intelligent design. She is suing the TEA and Education Commissioner Robert Scott to overturn the "neutral" policy and be reinstated to her old job.

The suit contends that the policy violates the Constitution because it amounts to an endorsement of religion.

"By professing 'neutrality,' the Agency credits creationism as a valid scientific theory," argues the court papers. "The agency's 'neutrality' policy violates the Establishment Clause … because it has the purpose or effect of endorsement of religion."

TEA has not responded to the suit.

But in a Nov. 5 memorandum recommending her termination, the intelligent design e-mail was cited as one of a "series of incidents evidencing a serious lack of good judgment and failure to follow agency policies."

One example of Comer's misconduct, according to the document, included an earlier incident in which she publicly told a body of Texas educators that Robert Scott was only acting commissioner and that there was no real leadership in the agency. Other incidents involved Comer not obtaining permission from the TEA prior to speaking or presenting materials at engagements.

Comer handed in her resignation letter on Nov. 7, just months ahead of the TEA's State Board of Education reviews of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, which determine what should be taught in the classrooms and what textbooks are bought.

"Ms. Comer should be well aware of her role in the TEKS revision process and the need to maintain neutrality based on the guidance provided by the agency management," stated the memo.