(via Addicting Info)
A public elementary school allegedly waged a shame campaign against students who didn’t believe in God.
A lawsuit filed by the parents of two students who attended Swainsboro Primary School, located in Swainsboro, Georgia, during the 2014-2015 school year, was settled earlier this week.
According to court documents, the students were enrolled in Kindergarten and first grade classes at the school. The students’ parents, who are not theists, filed the suit after their children were coaxed, manipulated and bullied by several teachers, who were leading their young, public school students in daily prayers.
The two students, identified in the suit as Jamie and Jesse Doe, brought the prayers to the attention of the parents, identified as John and Jane Doe, in August 2014. John Doe notified the school at that time that teacher-led prayers were a violation of the constitutional rights of his family.
Instead of halting the daily prayers, the Doe children were sent to sit in the hallway during class prayer time. Jesse, who was in first grade, told John and Jane Doe what happened, saying that the teacher used “her mean voice” when she told the child to leave her classroom so she could lead the other students in prayer.
The teacher announced to Jesse’s classmates that the first grader was not allowed to say the Pledge of Allegiance because it has the words “under God” in it.
According to the court documents, Jesse’s parents “never discussed the Pledge of Allegiance with any of the defendants” in the suit. The teacher “initiated this new policy, which further stigmatized and singled out Jesse, on her own initiative” or at the instruction of school offficials.
Jamie Doe’s teacher also told the other students that the Kindergartner “was not allowed to pray to God,” before sending the child out of the room. Other students started to tease the Kindergartner, saying he was being punished for not praying to God.
The Doe parents eventually took the youngest student out of school, after the child repeatedly talked about feeling uncomfortable because of the daily classroom prayers.
Jesse Doe continued to attend first grade at the school. John Doe spoke with school officials again, telling them that singling out Jesse because of the family’s religious beliefs was not acceptable, under the law.
The children’s parents also contacted the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The organization also sent a letter to school officials, informing them that the teachers’ actions were violating the rights of the Doe family. According to the suit, an attorney for the school sent a response letter, stating that the school superintendent had “talked with the principal of the primary school and taken steps to stop the conduct.”
But in spite of the response, the court documents state that teachers and school employees continued to “organize, participate in, and endorse prayer to their students, including Jesse.”
In December Jesse’s science teacher encouraged the child to “make a good decision” about prayer. A short time later, the first grader’s gym teacher prodded Jesse to join the rest of the class in prayer.
Around the same time, another teacher kept Jesse from going to recess. According to the court documents, the teacher wanted to “talk to Jesse about her personal conception of the Christian god. She spent almost the entire recess period explaining her personal views on Christianity’s god: that God loves Jesse and that God made the world.”
And it gets even worse. During the conversation, the teacher “also told Jesse that Jesse should not listen to Jane Doe, Jesse’s mother, because Jane is a bad person for not believing in God.”
Two days later Jesse’s parents learned that their first grader had joined in with the classroom prayers.
The family filed suit against the school district in February, with the assistance of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. On October 5, the Freedom From Religion Foundation released the following statement concerning the resolution of the family’s suit.
“The Freedom From Religion Foundation has settled a lawsuit with Emanuel County School District in Swainsboro, Ga., after stopping teacher-led prayer and proselytization in its public schools… Today, after reaching an agreement with the school district, FFRF is dismissing its lawsuit. Emanuel teachers have received educational training on their obligations not to promote religious beliefs in their classrooms and the Doe family has been financially compensated for harm they suffered.”
The statement goes on to say:
“We’re pleased that the Emanuel County Schools has taken action to correct the egregious constitutional violations that were taking place in its classrooms. No devotions and religious practices should take place in public schools, and no small child should ever be pressured to take part in such illegal practices. More than 50 years of clear Supreme Court precedent bar such coercive conduct, because religion in schools is divisive and builds walls between children.”
Here’s more on the story from The Young Turks, via youtube.