Earlier this month a lawsuit was filed in a Florida court in hopes that ban on the the distribution of Bibles currently in place will be lifted. The ban does not allow Bibles to be distributed on public school campuses on Religious Freedom Day, which is January 16 each year. The President of the United States declares it yearly as such.
The Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit litigation and policy organization filed the suit. The group states that the district school board of Collier County allowed a group called the World Changers to distribute the Bibles each year, during off school hours on that day. The group says that the school board changed its policy and no longer believes that the Bibles offer any educational benefit to students and therefore should be banned.
The Collier County School District does allow for nonprofit organization to distribute material, however approval for the process must be obtained from the superintendent and from the Community Request Committee first. In January of 2009, World Changers were denied this approval. The group says that they include a disclaimer in the material of school endorsement or sponsorship and no one is forced to accept a Bible.
According to Superintendent Dennis Thompson, the denial of approval was based on a new legal opinion the school district received.
Liberty Counsel states in their lawsuit that the school district is in violation of the group World Changer’s rights to free speech, press and exercise of religion, as well as the equality protection guaranteed under the 1st and 14th amendment. The organization states that the school board does not understand the distinction of a private speech, which they claim is what World Changers is offering, and how private speeches should not be banned.
If you are a California school administrator with a question about student/teacher safety, special education, accommodations, student rights, free speech or discipline, feel free to call attorney Richard Oppenheim at 818-461-8500 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 818-461-8500 end_of_the_skype_highlighting. There is never a charge for an initial consultation and we can help you choose the best direction to resolve any school district issue.