Freedom from Religion Foundation: School board decision is ‘regrettable’
“Regrettable” is the word Patrick Elliott, an attorney with the Freedom from Religion Foundation, used to describe the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education’s unanimous decision to keep the district’s Bible classes in place and to evaluate and adjust the curriculum as necessary.
Elliot said the board’s response was “appropriate for the high school level classes,” but that the foundation’s “primary complaint” is the classes taught in elementary schools.
While high school students are capable of engaging in a balanced, historical or cultural discussion based on the Bible, “that’s not really possible with five-year-olds,” he argued.
The group registered a complaint with Dr. Lynn Moody on Sept. 24 saying that the district’s Bible classes in elementary schools were “flagrantly unconstitutional.”
The Freedom from Religion Foundation has issued records requests for the lesson plans and materials for all the district’s Bible classes and plans to “examine the materials they have been using.”
“I don’t know for sure what’s going to happen here,” Elliot said. “We’re considering our options on that – certainly litigation is a strong possibility.”
“We really don’t have any timeline on that,” he said, adding, “First, we want to look at what they have.”
Elliot said as long as the Bible classes continue to be taught, “they remain a liability.”
Chairman of the Board of Education Dr. Richard Miller said the intention is to keep the classes, but there may be some modifications.
“We don’t want a knee-jerk reaction to take away something that needs modification,” he said. “We just want to make sure we are doing it within the appropriate guidelines.”
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Dr. Julie Morrow said her department is developing the process to evaluate each Bible class’ curriculum, and that the process will begin with “intense research and review.”
They will be talking with other districts throughout the country whose Bible classes have not been challenged, as well as maybe partnering with universities who specialize in teaching Bible as a historical or cultural class.
“I think it will be a continual process,” Morrow said, adding that curriculum review is “continuous” for all courses.
“Things are changing. You’re constantly having to review and change,” she said.
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