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Franklin Township Schools settles with former teacher who was detained, accused of lying

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A former Franklin Township Schools teacher will receive $50,000 as part of a settlement with the district after a school police officer accused him of lying about his position to get into a soccer game for free and then arrested him.

Craig Jordan, a special education teacher in the district’s alternative school at the time, sued the district in August 2021 for violating his Fourth Amendment rights, saying the officer didn’t believe him and detained him because he is Black. The incident occurred in August 2019.

The district denied the allegations, and a settlement is not an admission of guilt.

“Franklin Township Community School Corporation condemns and does not tolerate discrimination of any kind,” a district spokesperson said in a statement following the settlement.

As part of the court case, the district also released body camera footage of the officer, James Wheatley, questioning and detaining and Jordan.

The video starts after Jordan tells Wheatley he’s a teacher. Wheatley said he was detaining Jordan “right away,” and the video shows him pull Jordan’s shirt over his shoulder and down his arm.

“Whenever an officer tells you to do something, you tensed up. That’s resisting,” the officer said at one point.

There is a delay between the audio and video, making it difficult to match the audio to what the video shows.

Jordan told Wheatley he was embarrassed and felt harassed. He told Wheatley to let go of his shirt, and the officer put Jordan in handcuffs shortly after that.

The athletic director confirmed to Wheatley that Jordan was a teacher, and Jordan was able to get his ID out of his pocket for Wheatley to see. Wheatley said he would remove the handcuffs “as a professional courtesy,” according to a police report, and said the situation “would have played out different” had Wheatley been an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer rather than a district officer.

“At the end of the day, there was no reason to arrest him,” Jordan’s attorney, Jon Little, said. “There was no reason to hassle him.”

In an interview in June 2021, Jordan told the Recorder he went on family medical leave and had been going to therapy because of the stress.

“The whole thing made me very stressed and anxious,” he said. “A lot of anxiety.”

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853 or email at tylerf@indyrecorder.com. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

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