A third-grade student said her substitute teacher would not let her read the Bible during independent reading time.
Audra Palmer, mother of 9-year-old Brionna Palmer, said her daughter came home from school in tears on May 4, WCMH reports.
"She said, 'Mommy, the teacher made me put my Bible away,'" Audra told the news station. "And I said, 'What do you mean she made you put your Bible away?'"
According to the child, there was a substitute teacher in her class at Gorsuch West Elementary in Lancaster, Ohio. After she finished her work, Brionna said she wanted to read the Bible during her free time.
"The teacher come through and she was inspecting everybody's books, and she said to put your book away and get out a different book," the mother explained.
Brionna was reportedly in tears while recounting the incident.
"[I] reassured her that it was okay, she had done nothing wrong, that it was right, it was okay for her to read her Bible and that she shouldn’t be ashamed to do so," Audra said.
Brionna’s mother called the principal later that day to discuss what had happened in her daughter’s class. The following day, on May 5, Audra and her husband Jacob went to the elementary school to speak to both the principal and Brionna’s regular teacher. According to school officials, the incident happened while the substitute teacher was reading to the class.
"The student was asked to put her book away while the lesson was going on," a statement from the school read. "The book happened to be the Bible. The substitute had no problem with the young lady reading the Bible earlier in the day during free reading time."
A similar incident occurred in Marshall, Missouri, in January 2015 when 12-year-old Loyal Grandstaff said he was told he could not read the Bible during his free time, WDAF reported. He said he was not reading the book aloud or sharing it with his classmates at time of the incident.
"I was just reading, just reading because I had free time," Loyal told WDAF. "A time to do what I wanted to, so I just broke it out and read."
"I feel like it violated his freedom of religion but also his freedom of speech," Justin Grandstaff, Loyal’s father, said.