Former Forest Lake Christian School principal sues, claims defamation |

Former Forest Lake Christian School principal sues, claims defamation

Former Forest Lake Christian School Principal Lisa Zea has sued her former employer, superintendent and school board members, arguing that the defendants falsely claimed she altered student transcripts and spread lies about her through the community.

Zea, fired March 31 after five years as principal, claims in the suit that defamatory statements were made following her suspension and firing. The defendants said that she had no ethics, was incompetent, told school staff to violate rules and altered school transcripts.

Those “slanderous” statements were published in a letter to school employees, parents and others. They were repeated at an April meeting, with defendants claiming she was dishonest, the lawsuit states.

“All of these publications were outrageous, negligent, reckless, intentional, and maliciously published and republished by Defendants, and each of them,” the lawsuit states.

Zea says she is entitled to lost wages, salary, benefits and other expenses and damages, as well as punitive damages because of the defendants’ malicious actions.

No trial date has been set for the suit filed last month.

“I’m going to litigate this in front of a jury,” said attorney Mark Velez, who represents Zea.

Zea declined comment. A Forest Lake Christian School representative couldn’t be reached for comment.

The school’s Board of Directors in a letter said that an investigation revealed Zea told personnel to alter school transcripts. The board said that behavior was “inconsistent with professional ethics, FLCS policy, biblical and Christian role model requirements, and it compromises the academic integrity of FLCS.”

Zea disputed that statement after its release, citing two students with special circumstances in their classes. Zea said she asked the registrar for special consideration about changing their classes, not their grades.

According to the suit, Zea on March 17 met with Superintendent Andrew Ricabal. He placed her on administrative leave days before representatives with the Association of Christian Schools International Accreditation appeared on campus.

Zea claims her suspension came during the school’s process of gaining accreditation. Asking for a second extension to that process, the school opted against holding an at-large parent meeting to hear the accreditation team. Only selected parents attended a meeting.

“(Zea) was not included as she would have been a vocal spokesperson, offering candid criticism of the board and Ricabal’s elimination of the Honor’s Program,” the suit states. “Truthful criticism offered by Plaintiff Zea would have seriously affected the ACSI Accreditation process and embarrassed the board.”

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.

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