A second grade student attending Hamilton Elementary School brought her Bible to school for a “read-to-myself” time in class. This is a time set aside for the students to read a book of their choosing to themselves. Allegedly the child’s Bible was confiscated and flagged inappropriate reading material. The parents of the young girl have chosen to remain anonymous to avoid any type of retaliation or retribution.
Hamilton Elementary School is a part of the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District; the third largest district in Texas. Reportedly, the teacher told the child she could not bring her Bible to school and went as far as to take the Bible from her and declare it inappropriate.
Other parents of students in the school are outraged by the allegations and victimization surrounding this child. One parent, Germaine Tanner, said if it were a time set aside for students to read silently to themselves the girl should have been allowed to read whatever she chose. Another parent said she and her family are devout Christians; her son is also in the second grade and has taken his Bible to school. Now she is going to have to ask him what is going on.
The school district has not confirmed the validity of the allegations. They first heard about the incident through the media and therefore must conduct an investigation to determine the credibility of the accusations. In the interim the District has released the following statement:
“If the incident did in fact happen as the parents explained it, then the second grade child would certainly be allowed to read the Bible during the personal reading time. During a student’s independent reading time, students are required to read a book that is ‘Just Right.’ A ‘Just Right’ book is when the student can read most of the words, comprehend the text and that the book is appropriate for the type of text or genre that is being taught. As such religious material, including the Bible, which meets these guidelines, would be permissible for a classroom assignment and/or independent reading.”
The parents of the child reached out to Liberty Institute as well as local media to share their concern. Liberty Institute is a national legal organization dedicated to defending and securing religious freedom. The organization’s legal counsel sent a letter to John Conn, Hamilton Elementary School’s principal, explaining that the teacher’s alleged censorship of a student’s private religious expression is not only illegal but violates state law, federal guidelines and the U.S. Constitution.
Senior Counsel for the organization, Michael Berry, said Liberty Institute hopes the school district will resolve this matter expeditiously. They are awaiting a response from the District which clearly states that this unfortunate incident has been addressed with District employees along with the assurance that this will not happen again.
Barry said the entire incident is really confusing because the school’s library carries several Bibles. It seems especially strange that a student at Hamilton Elementary would be prohibited from reading one during the “read-to-myself” program.
The organization is a nonprofit legal group with a goal of restoring religious liberty across America, in schools, military, churches and throughout other public arenas. Liberty Institute’s vision is to establish once again religious liberty in accordance with the principles and vision of the nation’s founding fathers.
Allegedly a second-grade student attending Hamilton Elementary School was told she could not bring her Bible to school after she chose to read it during “read-to-myself” time in class. At this time, both the student and her parents wish to remain anonymous due to fear of reprisal or retaliation. Liberty Institute is handling this matter between the parents and the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District in hopes of bringing about an amicable resolve for both parties.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)