School Districts Challenged for Expelling First Amendment

By:  Dave Bohon
04/18/2014
       
School Districts Challenged for Expelling First Amendment

School districts in New York and Pennsylvania have been targeted for violating the First Amendment guarantees of their students.

A high school in Amsterdam, New York, has relented on its attempts to block a student-led Bible study at the school following the intervention of the conservative legal advocacy group American Center for Law and Justice. According to ACLJ, the principal of the school had originally given a student organizer of the Bible study the go ahead for the group to meet after school just like any other on-campus club.

But on the day the students were to meet for their first Bible study, the school superintendent informed the student, a senior at the school, that the club would have to secure an insurance policy to use the school facility after hours — even though no other student clubs were required to have such a policy.

Concerned parents of the students contacted ACLJ about the discrepancy, and the legal group responded with information about the relevant legal guidelines a district must follow when religious based, student-led clubs desire to use school facilities. The bottom line, noted the ACLJ in a statement, is that “the Bible club must be given the same privileges as any other student-led club. If other student-led clubs are not required to obtain insurance policies, this senior should not be required to obtain one for the Bible club.”

Upon being served with the information, the school district abandoned its attempt to stop the Bible study.

The case is the second in just over a week in which a school district has been challenged for attacking the religious liberties of a student. Fox News reported that Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), another conservative legal advocacy group, has filed suit against the school district of Nazareth, Pennsylvania, on behalf of a couple whose son was prohibited by his teacher and principal from giving fellow classmates Valentine's Day cards because his cards included the Christian history of the holiday, along with a well-know Bible verse.

Fox News reported that in early February the household of Donald and Ellen Abramo received a letter from their son's teacher at the Floyd R. Shafer Elementary School in Nazareth with instructions for the distribution of “Friendship Day” (i.e., Valentine's Day) cards, stipulating that only approved edible snacks were to be attached to the card. So instead of a snack, the child and his siblings decided to attach a personal message to the cards they gave to classmates, which included the history of Valentine's Day.

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