Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Disciplinary Action for Reading Bible During Lunch Time

The Rutherford Institute reported Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute have filed a civil rights lawsuit in defense of the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of a seventh grader who was ordered by Maryland middle school officials to stop reading her Bible during free time at school or face disciplinary action.

On September 14, 2006, seventh-grader Amber Mangum was approached by the Vice Principal at Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School in Prince George’s County, Md., while reading a Bible in the school cafeteria during her lunch period.

I bet if she was reading the Koran the Vice Principal would not have said anything.
In keeping with school policy, students are allowed to read books or engage in interpersonal communications during non-instructional time at school, including lunch periods. Furthermore, published administrative procedure of the Prince George’s County Public Schools provides that “[s]tudents may read their Bibles or other scriptures, say grace before meals, and pray before tests to the same extent they may engage in comparable, non-disruptive activities.”
And that is the way it should be. But then why did this stupid Vice Principal do what he did?
However, as noted in the complaint filed by Rutherford Institute attorneys, the vice principal informed Amber that reading a Bible was a violation of the school’s policy and warned her that she would be subject to more severe disciplinary action if she were found reading a Bible at school again. In defending Amber’s right to read a Bible during non-instructional time at school, Institute attorneys have pointed out that according to the U.S. Department of Education’s 2003 guidelines under the No Child Left Behind Act, students have the right to read Bibles or other religious scriptures during lunch hour, recess or other non-instructional times.

Rhymes with Right blogged In other words, not only did the administrator ignore the constitutional rights of Amber Mangum, this administrator also ignored written district policy. And when the family challenged that misconduct, the school's principal decided to send teh complaint down the memory hole and ignore it.

No one is asking for special rights here. All that is being sought is equal rights. And if students may read the book of their choice during non-instructional time, the religious content of their choice cannot legitimately be used to thwart their choice of literature.

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