A parent is accusing a North Carolina public school of impeding her child's First Amendment rights by purportedly preventing the 8-year-old from writing about Jesus.
Heather Watts told WECT-TV that her daughter Ryleigh, a second-grade student at Cerro Gordo Elementary School in Cerro Gordo, N.C., submitted an assignment that described Jesus as her hero, but that her teacher rejected it.
Watts said the educator asked Ryleigh if she could write about something different -- and the frustrated mother dubbed the treatment of the situation a threat to her daughter's free-speech rights.
"I think she should have freedom to write about what she wants to write about," the mother told the outlet. "If she wants to write about Jesus, she should write about Jesus."
A copy of the assignment that was reportedly rejected (Image source: WECT-TV)
A copy of Ryleigh's assignment was published by WECT-TV. It reads, in part, "My hero is Jesus because he helps me, makes me better. He also makes good things happen."
But a statement from Cerro Gordo Elementary School denies the family's version of the story.
"After speaking with both the teacher and the principal, we have learned that students were not restricted from writing on any topic of their choosing. Columbus County Schools encourages student expression in all aspects of our educational program," it reads. "We also have an open-door policy, and encourage our parents and guardians to contact or visit their child's school to address any concerns."
Watts told WECT-TV that she did meet with the teacher and the principal, but that the issue has not been resolved. It is unclear what action, if any, the mother will take.
A similar debate unfolded at Lucy Elementary School in Memphis, Tenn., last year, after a teacher initially banned 10-year-old Erin Shead from writing about God for a class assignment.
The school eventually reversed course and decided to accept and grade the assignment after the girl's mother spoke out to media and after the Liberty Institute, a conservative legal group, got involved, WREG-TV reported at the time.
(H/T: Christian Post)
Featured image via WECT-TV