A Louisiana public school faced the consequences of their actions last week when a district judge smacked them down for violating the religious liberty of students.
A Buddhist student in Louisiana was persecuted by his teacher and school
filed a lawsuit against Negreet High School In January, the ACLU on behalf of “C.C.” and his parents. 6th grade science teacher Rita Roark taught students that the Bible is “100 percent true.” She told them God created the Earth 6,000 years ago and called evolution a “stupid theory made up by stupid people who don’t want to believe in God.” What follows is a test question she gives to students.
“ISN’T IT AMAZING WHAT THE _____________ HAS MADE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
The answer Roark looked for was “The Lord.” But “C.C.,” a student in Roark’s class, couldn’t answer the question, nor would he have. That’s because C.C. is a Buddhist, not a Christian. Roark not only violated her student’s First Amendment rights by pushing specific religious beliefs on a classroom assignment, she also ridiculed her non-Christian student. She led her class in laughing at “C.C.” and called his Buddhist faith “stupid.” Roark also told “C.C.” that “you’re stupid if you don’t believe in God.”
Christian propaganda can be found all around school property. From pictures of Jesus, posters, Bible verses, and official prayers, Negreet High School clearly seeks to indoctrinate students and bully those who don’t practice the Christian faith. When parents confronted Sabine Parish Superintendent Sara Ebarb about the issue, she told them to either change their faith to fit in with “the Bible Belt” or find a school where “there are more Asians.”
Louisiana District Judge Elizabeth Foote threw the book at the school
Well, the ACLU took the school and the teacher to court. And last week, they won. District Judge Elizabeth Foote not only ruled against the school, she threw the book at them. In her ruling, Foote agreed that the school district clearly violated the constitutional rights of students by forcing Christian doctrine down their throats. She ordered the school to remove all of the propaganda from the premises. The ruling banned school officials from initiating prayers, using class work to promote religion, sponsoring a religious belief, or holding religious services at the school. Students are still permitted to pray in school and participate in religious clubs. But as the ruling states,
“The District and School Board are permanently enjoined from permitting School Officials at any school within the School District to promote their personal religious beliefs to students in class or during or in conjunction with a School Event… School Officials shall not denigrate any particular faith, or lack thereof, or single out any student for disfavor or criticism because of his or her particular faith or religious belief, or lack thereof.”
In short, Negreet High School and all other public schools in the district must obey the constitution and respect the rights of all students. Just like other public schools.
But that’s not all. The Sabine Parish school board is also being punished financially. They’ve been ordered to pay $4,000 in damages to C.C.’s parents as well as $40,000 in court costs. At a time when schools are facing budget cuts, the violations committed by Negreet High School are costly and wasteful.
This is what should happen when school officials ignore the Constitution to force religion upon their students
By teaching students religious doctrine, the school risked being sued. But they did it anyway and are now paying a hefty price. This is what should happen when school officials ignore the Constitution and the rights of their students. Instead of doing their jobs by helping students learn facts to prepare them for the real world, school officials chose to indoctrinate them and brainwash them. And if any student rejected their “teachings,” they would be persecuted. These actions are a disgrace to education and the school got the punishment it deserved. This ruling is a victory for the First Amendment and for sanity. It should serve as a warning to all public schools across the nation that such behavior will not be tolerated. If you want to teach religion, volunteer at church. Don’t force your beliefs onto students at school. Students go to school to learn facts, not religious dogma.