A second-grade student from North Hill Elementary School in Des Moines, Washington reportedly has been punished by school officials at least ten times this year because she spoke about Jesus to her classmates in the playground.
The Christian Post said the unnamed child and her parents filed a complaint against the school through the American Center for Law and Justice, who released a statement about it recently. In the statement, American Center for Law and Justice Associate Counsel Christina Compagnone revealed that the school was punishing the second-grader for something the First Amendment protects her with.
"We were astonished when we were first contacted by a second-grade student's parents who said their little girl had been sent to the principal's office at North Hill Elementary School no less than 10 times since January 1st for witnessing to classmates on the playground. Not only were they scolding her for talking about Jesus to her classmates outside of instruction time, but they were stopping her at the entrance to the school every morning to inspect her backpack and remove any Christian tracts!" Compagnone said.
Compagnone disclosed that the mother repeatedly confronted the school principal for removing the tracts in their daughter's bag but was told those were not allowed in school premises since it upsets other parents. ACLJ then reached out to the school after the parents complained about the matter. ACLJ explained to the school that the First Amendment protects the student in witnessing to her faith. But the principal responded by insisting on school policy against the distribution of such materials that disrupt or interfere with school activities.
Compagnone pointed out that the school regarded such tracts as contraband as though "speaking about Jesus were an illicit drug." The Highline School District, to which the North Hill Elementary School belonged, has a Freedom of Expression policy, which prohibits students from distributing written materials that cause the disruption of school activities during an assembly or classroom setting.
Compagnone said such a policy does not apply to what the second-grader does since she witnesses to her faith in the playground, meaning it is outside a classroom setting or an assembly. The lawyer emphasized that the First Amendment empowers students to freely express their religious views through the sharing of Christian tracts, Bibles, and crosses while at school. What the school officials did, therefore, was against the First Amendment.
"The actions of the school officials were particularly egregious in this case because they not only violated this student's rights but also publicly humiliated her. They will not get away with this. The ACLJ will ensure that this little girl's religious liberties are respected once and for all. We recently sent a Demand Letter to the school; and if the school does not take immediate corrective action, we are ready to file in court if necessary," Compagnone warned.
Accordingly, the second grader's experience is similar to a 206-page lawsuit filed by the Dhillon Law Group against the Mater Academy charter school of Hialeah Gardens, Florida. The said case involves a 14-year-old student, Nicolas Ortiz, who was prohibited by the Academy from bringing his Bible to school after he was repeatedly bullied and attacked by teachers and students about it.
Dhillon Group Managing Partner Harmeet Dhillon said in a statement that Ortiz's experience is something no American should ever experience. Dhillon raised that the bullying Ortiz experienced from peers is already bad enough against the practice of his faith. The school's prohibition is a blatant First Amendment right violation that shows how extreme the country's education system has become.