Louisiana School District Investigates Principal For Constitutional Violations

| by Kendal Mitchell
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A Louisiana school board is investigating claims made by a national First Amendment rights group that state the principal of a local school called for community members to pray to God and Jesus in the school publications.

In a statement released by Caddo Parish School District on Tuesday, officials said they planned to talk to the Walnut Hill Elementary/Middle School principal Albert Hardison about the claims.

Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union, a nationwide group whose objective is to protect individuals' constitutional rights, sent a letter to the school district that claimed Hardison violated broke the law by mentioning God and Jesus in professional settings.

"We take concerns and complaints seriously and make sure to follow the law," the district's statement said. "At the same time, the district remains committed to protecting student freedoms. This includes their abilities to lead and participate in prayer and other religious activities, and we will equally continue to work to ensure student freedoms are not inhibited."

ACLU of Louisiana executive director Marjorie Esman said she thinks Hardison violated the Constitution by referring to God, as well as specific Bible passages in parent newsletter.

One verse the ACLU cites is Philippians 4:13, which states, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

The ACLU letter also states Hardison’s March newsletter asked parents to pray to give students strength and wisdom during state mandated testing.

Esman said she thinks the school district should stop the practices as soon as possible.

"No school employee may tell a student what religion to practice or even to practice religion at all," Esman said. "Nor may a school official tell students or their families to teach any religious texts."

Despite the ACLU letter, school officials said the community supports Hardison’s actions. 

"I think the ACLU should stay out of our school and leave us alone," said Jeanine Rowe, a teacher’s aide and Walnut Hill PTA president. "We are a successful school. We're not hurting anybody. We're not forcing our beliefs on anybody. They are our beliefs."

Sources: Shreveport Times

Photo Credit: WikiCommons