Judge denies most claims against Seattle Pacific University board

by | Apr 7, 2023 | Religion

(RNS) — A Washington State Superior Court judge has rejected all but one claim brought against members of Seattle Pacific University’s board of trustees for refusing to scrap an employment policy barring people in same-sex relationships from full-time jobs.Judge Andrea Darvas ruled Thursday (April 6) that the plaintiffs — 12 students and faculty at Seattle Pacific — have no standing to claim that the university board breached its fiduciary duty in refusing to eliminate the employment policy.
“Courts in other jurisdictions have consistently held that students and staff at a university do not have special interest standing with respect to management of university assets,” Darvas wrote in her opinion.
Seattle Pacific University, which is associated with the Free Methodist Church, has been locked in a battle with students and faculty since 2021, when an adjunct nursing professor claimed he was denied a job because of his sexual orientation.

RELATED: SPU board members seek dismissal of lawsuit over LGBTQ exclusion

“The University is grateful for the judge’s ruling today and the strong support of First Amendment rights it reflects,” a statement from Seattle Pacific said. “These rights include freedoms for leaders of faith-based institutions like ours to make their own decisions on self-governance.”
In her ruling on Thursday, the judge allowed a claim of fraud against interim university President Pete Menjares and board trustee Matthew Whitehead to proceed.
Students and faculty said Friday they had not met yet to decide whether to pursue the fraud claim (the university had previously asked that the charge be dismissed).
Lynette Bikos, professor and chai …

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