BEDFORD, N.Y. -- A fired Fox Lane High School English teacher who wondered about government-involved conspiracies is suing to overturn a hearing officer's disciplinary ruling that triggered his dismissal.
The lawsuit was filed on May 22 on behalf of Adam Heller, a Pound Ridge resident who had taught at the school since 2002. In it, Heller contends that he did not have a disciplinary history and gives a timeline leading to the officer's decision. The Bedford Central School District is named as the defendant.
The hearing officer, Jeffery Sherman, ruled in favor of the school district in a May 12 decision, with termination of employment being the penalty. Bedford Central's school board voted to fire Heller at its May 20 meeting, according to an analysis of meeting records information coupled with details in the officer's decision.
On Dec. 13 and 14, 2012, according to court records, Heller traveled to Precision Armony, which is a Putnam County gun store, to purchase two guns: a Winchester Model 1300 12-gauge shotgun and a Russian military rifle. On the second purchase date, the Newtown elementary school mass shooting became a major news story, and the event ultimately caught Heller's attention.
Also that month, according to Heller's court submission, he met a person named Georgia O'Connor, who he describes as “a medium by profession.” Heller, 35, recalled talking with O'Connor about government power and raised conspiracy scenarios.
Heller's lawsuit petition recalls the following: “During these private one-on-one conversations, Petitioner explained to Ms. O'Connor his concerns about governmental power and corruption, including the potential use by the government of technology to effect weather patterns and its involvement in nation-wide conspiracies, including, potentially, with respect to the then-recent Newtown school shooting in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.”
The following month, according to the court submission, the FBI got in touch with Bedford Police Chief William Hayes because a friend of Heller's reported concerns pertaining to his well-being. Hayes, according to the lawsuit, then contacted Pound Ridge Police Chief David Ryan. Law enforcement officials then met and Superintendent Jere Hochman was informed, according to the suit.
On Jan. 18, 2013, according to the lawsuit, Heller returned to Precision Armory but did not buy a gun he had considered purchasing because a salesperson allegedly told him that it would likely become illegal. Later that day, Heller was pulled over by multiple police vehicles, according to the lawsuit, and was met by Ryan, who instructed him to exit his vehicle.
Heller, along with Ryan, went to his home but encountered eight law enforcement officials there, according to the lawsuit. Heller was then brought to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla. There, he was diagnosed with a “fast pulse” and was taken to the emergency room, where he stayed until Jan. 23, according to the lawsuit. Heller was then transferred to the hospital's Behavioral Health Unit, was involuntarily committed and evaluated by multiple doctors, according to the lawsuit.
Heller was discharged on Jan. 30, 2013 and Hochman subsequently requested that he undergo a pyschiatric evaluation, the lawsuit claims. Heller then met twice that April and May with Dr. Alexander Lerman. Heller's first visit to the doctor included administering of a personality test, according to the lawsuit.
That June, Hochman brought up two disciplinary charges, which allege that Heller failed to cooperate with a mental fitness investigation and that mental illness meant he had incompetence to work.
In a letter filed with the court, Hochman stated: “Due to apparent mental illness, it would create an undue risk to the safety of the students and faculty of the Bedford Central School District if you were permitted to return to your duties.”
Asked for a comment, Hochman stated that "it is not our practice to comment on personnel matters and litigation."
Heller, through the lawsuit, denies that he has serious mental illness and denies that he was uncooperative regarding treatment, citing the record as a source.