The parents of a second-grade student in Texas are accusing a teacher of banning their child from reading the Bible during independent reading time.
The student in question was purportedly trying to read the holy book during “read to myself time” at Hamilton Elementary School in Cypress, Texas, when the educator allegedly said the book was inappropriate.
The parents, who wish to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, claim that the teacher asked the child not to bring the Bible back to school.
Liberty Institute, a conservative legal group, is now representing the family, calling the teacher’s actions unconstitutional.
“We expect [Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District] officials to resolve this unfortunate incident quickly and amicably by informing us that they have addressed this matter with District employees, and by assuring us that this will not happen again,” Michael Berry, an Liberty Institute attorney, said in a statement.
Berry added that the Supreme Court has ruled in the past that children do not need to shed their First Amendment rights once they enter schools; he affirmed his belief that the child in question had every right to read the Bible during the independent reading time.
The Liberty Institute also penned a letter to the Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District in support of the family, claiming that the teacher’s alleged censorship violated the U.S. Constitution as well as state and federal laws.
“The First Amendment to the Constitution prohibits public schools from treating religious activities and materials less favorably than non-religious materials, as long as such materials do not create a substantial disruption to discipline or the academic environment,” the letter reads in part.
It continues, “If students at Hamilton Elementary are permitted to read non-religious materials of their choice, then the Bible must also be permitted.”
The exact nature and parameters surrounding “read to myself time” are not known, though Liberty Institute claims that the Bible fits available descriptions of the texts allowed during independent reading time.
The Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District said in a statement provided to TheBlaze that officials were made aware of the incident through local media and that an “initial investigation” has not been able to substantiate the alleged infraction.
That said, officials said they are still investigating.
“As a school district, our policies clearly support the First Amendment rights of all students,” the statement read.
It added, “During a student’s independent reading time, students are required to read a book that is ‘Just Right.’ A ‘Just Right’ book is when the student can read most of the words, comprehend the text and that the book is appropriate for the type of text or genre that is being taught.”
If the Bible meets these specifications for students, then it would be considered acceptable, the district noted, adding, “We take any allegation involving the civil liberties of our students seriously and will continue to address all concerns reported.”
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