Two white sisters have been expelled from a private, church-run school in Woodbridge because one of them fraternized with a black classmate against the principal's orders, a suit filed yesterday alleges.
Principal Aleck Lee Bledsoe of the Marumsco Christian School, named as a defendant in the suit in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, yesterday said, "There was an incident involving interracial dating, which we are opposed to."
Bledsoe, who als is pastor of the parent Marumsco Baptist Church, declined further comment, except to say that as a private institution, "We have a perfect right to expel."
According to court documents, Melissa Fiedler, 14, was expelled Jan. 9. When her father, Raymond Fiedler of Manassas, complained to the local NAACP chapter about the expulsion, the suit said, his 11-year-old daughter, Charlotte, also was asked to leave the school.
"It's absolutely outrageous. They weren't dating; in fact, it was merely a friendship," said Victor Glasberg of the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the suit on Fiedler's behalf.
Both sides the suit declined to name the black youth involved in the incident. He is still enrolled at the school, a source said.
Bledsoe said the school has an enrollment of 165 students from kindergarten through grade 12 but declined to give the ratio of blacks to whites in the student body.
According to the suit, Melissa Fiedler became friendly with a black classmate and attended a school Christmas party with him. In January, they attended a basketball game together.
Bledsoe, the suit alleges, "disapproved of the friendship," and "demanded, upon threat of expulsion, that Melissa cease being friendly with the black student" and forbade her to talk to him.
Glasberg said yesterday that after Bledsoe saw the couple at the basketball game, he approached them at a McDonald's restaurant later that night and told Melissa Fiedler that he wanted to see her in his office the next day.
Raymond Fiedler later approached the NAACP "to express his concern about the defendant's attempt to deny his daughters an integrated education," the suit said. He was told the next day by a representative of the school that because of the incident and the fact that Fiedler had complained, both of his daughters would be expelled, according to the suit.
Both of the girls have since been enrolled in public school, Glasberg said.
The suit charges Bledsoe with violation of the Civil Rights Act, the 13th Amendment, breach of contract and inflicting "emotional distress" on the Fiedlers. It asks that the students be readmitted and seeks a total of $14,000 in damages for the family.