Religion

School District Under Fire After Teacher Passes Out Bibles To Students

| by Karen Eisenberg
article imagearticle image

The Duncan Public Schools system in Oklahoma is facing a possible lawsuit after one of its teachers distributed Bibles to her students during school hours on April 2.

A third grade Woodrow Wilson Elementary School teacher allegedly told students she had Bibles at her desk and asked if anyone would like one.

After learning of the incident from a parent whose son came home with a Bible, the Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter to the school district and to the principal of Woodrow Wilson, informing the district that the incident violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution, according to the Duncan Banner.

Monica Miller, attorney for the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, said the student in question felt pressured to take a Bible after watching many of his fellow students take one.

“What makes this particular incident so egregious is the impressionable nature of elementary school students, who are more likely to see their public school’s involvement in disseminating religious materials as an endorsement of that religion,” Miller said. “Numerous cases make clear that public schools cannot assist the Gideons in distributing Bibles to school children.”

According to its website, the mission of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center is to “provide legal assistance to defend the constitutional rights of religious and secular minorities by directly challenging clear violations of the Establishment Clause and seeking equal rights for humanists, atheists and other freethinkers.”

In response to the situation, Duncan Public Schools superintendent Melonie Hau released a statement on behalf of the school system, which read:

"After being notified of the circumstances at Woodrow Wilson, we conducted an investigation and discovered that as a district we could have communicated the law to our employees more effectively. Once we became aware of the issue, we immediately took all steps necessary to address the concerns presented. We want our patrons to know that we greatly value our partnerships with community agencies and organizations. We appreciate the show of support, but we must follow the law. Our desire now is to move forward and to focus on our primary goal of supporting children and their learning." 

Sources: Duncan BannerThe Appignani Humanist Legal Center

Photo: The Guardian