A charter school in Nevada issued an apology to a sixth-grader after censoring her from using a Bible verse in a class assignment in February, according to the Liberty Institute, which represents the student’s family.
Mackenzie Fraiser, 12, was assigned a PowerPoint presentation by her technology teacher called “All About Me,” which had to include an “inspirational saying,” Liberty Institute said.
The Somerset Academy sixth-grader wanted to add one of her favorite Bible verse in the slides, John 3:16, but the teacher explained to the class that students would not be allowed to use any Bible verses or quotations from the Book of Mormon, reported Fox News.
The verse she wanted to use reads: “For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
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Mackenzie’s father, Tim Fraiser, 37, a pastor at Grace Point Church in North Las Vegas, sent an email to the school, asking why his daughter was told she wasn’t allowed to use “Biblical sayings” in her assignment.
Jenyan Martinez, the school’s assistant principal, responded with the following statement, writing:
“When Mackenzie created the project with the expectation she would present the Biblical saying to the class, the matter became one of having a captive audience that would be subject to her religious beliefs. Had the assignment been designed to simply hand in for a grade, this would not have been an issue. Therefore, considering the circumstances of the assignment, Miss Jardine appropriately followed school law expectations by asking Mackenzie to choose an alternate quote for the presentation.”
On May 20, attorney Jeremy Dys from the Liberty Institute, a Texas-based religious rights law firm, sent the school a letter demanding an apology, alleging that Somerset Academy violated Mackenzie’s constitutional rights. School officials were given 10 days to respond to avoid a lawsuit, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.
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The school issued an apology on May 22, and it has now allowed Mackenzie to resubmit the assignment with the verse included, Liberty Institute said.
Somerset Academy’s apology letter said: “After reviewing the facts of this particular situation, Somerset Academy recognizes that the teacher and assistant principal incorrectly implemented those guidelines. Expression of a student’s religious beliefs in the form of homework, artwork, and other written or oral assignments is protected speech and should have been allowed in this instance.”
Photo Credit: Liberty Institute