Bible use equals 2 day suspension?

That was the case at a school in California last year. According to the (possibly biased) Christian Post, 16-year-old Kenneth Dominguez had a life altering God experience during a school holiday and was eager to share his new beliefs with his friends and classmates at Gateway East High School in San Diego County the next semester. While he claims he restricted the god talk to breaks and lunch rather than class time, the school still responded with a request for him to quit that business and leave the bible at home, too.

his grace sharing period came to a halt when an administrator reprimanded him. The school official told Dominguez that he was not allowed to share his faith because of the “separation of church and state.”

According to Dacus, Dominguez had not created any disruption when he was testifying about his faith to fellow students. He didn’t shout or preach out loud and he limited his talk to lunch breaks and the hallways, and not the classroom.

Additionally, there has been no record of any student or anyone else complaining, Dacus noted.

After being warned by the administrator, Dominguez continued to discuss his faith and bring his Bible to school. He was then told that he could not bring his Bible to campus either. A two-day suspension soon followed.

Defending the student, attorney Michael J. Peffer, who heads PJI’s Southern California office, contended, “No student should be forced to leave his faith and Bible at the gate when he enters school grounds. We are looking forward to this opportunity to vindicate Mr. Dominguez and protect students throughout California.”

I agree. As much as I dislike people pushing religion at people, this kid still has the right to be religious. The school staff should have figured out a better way to handle his holy “on fire” exuberance so he wouldn’t have felt singled out or chastised for his beliefs (ridiculous though they may be).

The school district has refused to apologize for how they acted so they’re getting sued.

Other articles offer most of what the Christian Post supplied. I found an entertaining one at San Diego Directory, funny only on account of how it’s written. Looks like somebody ran the original Sign On San Diego article back and forth through Babelfish a few times and then published the results:

A tyro who claims he was dangling for articulate about Christianity to classmates as well as criminialized from bringing his Bible to campus has filed a sovereign authorised box opposite an East County propagandize district.

Nobody from the school district talked to the Post but Sign On does provide the district’s side of the story.

Dan Shinoff, an attorney representing Grossmont Union, said Dominguez has a record of disruptive behavior, that he was interrupting class and that the school district is committed to upholding the religious freedoms of all its students. Shinoff also said that Dominguez was never prohibited from bringing his Bible to school.

“This issue has nothing to do with this young man’s religious viewpoints,” Shinoff said. “There is absolute respect by the board, the Superintendent, the principal and the teacher for the freedom of religion that is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The disconnect appears to be one of whether the school ensures learning occurs in a non-disruptive environment.

“The evidence suggests there was an incredible amount of disruptive behavior.”

Instead, the Post quotes Brad Dacus, founder of The Pacific Justice Institute, the group representing Dominguez.

Among the 4,000 requests for legal assistance received last year alone, Dacus said many of them dealt with public school religious freedom issues.

“Particularly in a state like California where the teachers union has such great control over what goes on in public schools, we see a lot of hostility and bigotry against Christian students, sometimes under the cloak of ‘tolerance,'” he lamented.

If his religious jargon was reaching a point teachers thought was over the top and too distracting, then they were right to tell him to cool it a little. Maybe suspension was over the top as well, but what are the options for teachers who think a student is causing a problem and won’t stop on his own?


edit 11:12 am – fixed “bias” to read “biased” — thanks for the catch HurbleBurble. Mistakes are embarassing…

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3 Responses to Bible use equals 2 day suspension?

  1. HurbleBurble says:

    It’s “biased”, not “bias”.

  2. Tony Sidaway says:

    It’s hard to know what to make of this. The Christian Post, which did not get the District’s side of the story, makes it sound like a standard free exercise case. From past experience I know that American school administrators are quite capable of getting free exercise clause completely wrong.

    On the other hand the District says there was disruptive activity going on. If so witnesses will come forward and the case will be decided on the merits.

  3. 1minionsopinion says:

    Yeah, it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.

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