Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Bible-Reading Student Gets Lesson in Litigation -

Bible-Reading Student Gets Lesson in Litigation -
"Amber Mangum was a frequent reader during lunch breaks at her Prince George's County middle school, silently soaking up the adventures of Harry Potter and other tales in the spare minutes before afternoon classes. The habit was never viewed as a problem -- not, a lawsuit alleges, until the book she was reading was the Bible.

A vice principal at Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School in Laurel last month ordered Amber, then 12, to stop reading the Bible or face punishment, according to a lawsuit filed Friday by Amber's mother. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, alleges that the vice principal's actions violated the girl's civil rights. ..."

This article in the Washington Post raises some serious questions about judgement, especially considering that, according to the Prince Georges County School System policy regarding reigious and patriotic expression, "students 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."

Whay is unclear from the article is whether the vice principal was reacting to a specific complaint or whether the vice principal simply observed the "offence" and moved to put a stop to it.

Certainly, the existence of the policy seems to imply that reading a Bible or praying before meal or tests are not in and of themselves "disruptive", and they are to be permitted.

It seems that the Prince Georges County school system has a bit of a problem here.

UPDATE -- October 7, 2006: in a correction to the original article, the girl acknowledges that she misidentified the school official who told her to stop reading her Bible. The complaint no longer specifies the vice principal, but states that the official's identity is unknown.

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Quotidian Grace said...

It's amazing how these school bureaucrats refuse to exercise any kind of common sense when they pull stunts like this. They are more concerned about covering their own rear ends and avoiding criticism from their supervisors than anything else.


Denis Hancock said...

I'm glad that Columbia Public Schools, thus far, has a far more reasonable approach to religion and other hot-button issues.

I did a quick followup search on this event, and there seems to be no indication that this was anything but a young girl quietly reading her Bible during the lunch hour. I mean it's not as if she stood on a table in the cafeteria and started haranguing students about their evil ways and the need for repentance....

I'd be curious to know how long it takes for the school district to find a face-saving way to extricate themselves from this embarrassment.

Reformed Catholic said...

It definitely sounds like the Vice Principal overstepped the bounds, and obviously did not know his own school system's policy on private time reading.

As far as saving-face, the School Superintendent should just come out and say that the guy goofed. No spin, no sputter, just be honest and admit the screw-up !!

Denis Hancock said...

This may be how it all ends up. There was a piece in the Washigton Post today that the girl misidentified the person who told her she couldn't read the Bible, and that the lawsuit has been amended to specify an unknown adult.