Sunteți pe pagina 1din 6

Religion and Public Schools 1

Davin Bach

Artifact #5

Nevada School Law EDU 210

Professor Dr. Warby

March 6, 2017
Religion and Public Schools 2

Karen White, a kindergartener teacher, informed her parents and students that, due to her

being a Jehovahs Witness, she could no longer lead activities or participate in projects that were

religious in nature. Furthermore, this included holiday decorations, singing Happy Birthday or

reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The parents protested and the principal recommended her

dismissal based on her ineffectively meeting the needs of her students.

Fortunately, under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, Karen White has

the right to worship as she chooses. In the case Wisconsin vs. Yoder the Court concluded that

enforcing a state compulsory attendance law against Amish children after they had completed the

eighth grade, infringed on their free exercise of religion rights (Wisconsin vs. Yoder, 1972).

Karen White is a Jehovah Witness and her religion does not permit her to lead or participate in

any activity that may be against her religious beliefs. Therefore, the school would be infringing

on her free exercise of religion rights if they forced her to do otherwise.

In the case of West Virginia State Board of Education vs. Barnette, the Board adopted a

resolution requiring students and teachers to salute the flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance in

school. Moreover, a students failure to do so was seen as insubordination and resulted in

suspension. The Court ruled the West Virginia State School Boards actions as unconstitutional

because as a Jehovah Witness, the student is forbidden from honoring the flag (West Virginia

State Board of Education vs. Barnette, 1943). In contrast, the same goes in the defense of Karen

White. For instance, the principal recommending her dismissal for not participating in certain

activities; for example, the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance would be unconstitutional

because it violates her free exercise of religion rights.


Religion and Public Schools 3

Furthermore, the principal recommended Karen Whites dismissal based on her

ineffectively meeting the needs of her students. Although she may not have celebrated or

participated in certain activities because of religious reasons. That does not mean she should

totally not allow it in her classroom. The case Clever vs. Cherry Hill Tp. Board of Education the

Court upheld that it is permissible for public schools to display religious holiday symbols in

school calendars as long as it is absent of denominational preference (Clever vs. Cherry Hill Tp.

Bd. Of Educ., 1993). Moreover, as in the case of Karen White, the principal wanted to

effectively meet the needs of the students concerning certain activities. The teacher should have

not taken away the students rights to acknowledge activities that may be religious in nature.

Furthermore, as long as there were educational purposes and it did not appear to endorse the

religious nature of the holiday. Karen White should have allowed certain activities so that she

could effectively meet the needs of the students.

In retrospect, Florey vs. Sioux Falls School District, the Court upheld that the study and

performance of religious songs, including Christmas carols, are constitutional if their purpose is

the advancement of students knowledge of societys cultural and religious heritage (Florey vs.

Sioux Falls School District, 1980). In the principals defense, as long as the activities showed a

purpose of the advancement of the students knowledge of cultural and religious heritage.

Karen White should have been able to involve herself in such activities so that the students

needs were met in an educational manner. This would have allowed her to not completely forgo

activities and projects because they were religious in nature.


Religion and Public Schools 4

On the other hand, the 1943 case West Virginia State Board of Education vs. Barnette,

the court upheld its ruling that the Boards action was unconstitutional because they suspended a

student for refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance due to his religious belief as a Jehovah

Witness. The same rule would apply in Karens case. She is also a Jehovahs Witness and also

has the right to not recite the Pledge of Allegiance or perform in any other activities that she

believes goes against her religion. Although Karen White has the right to not lead certain

activities or participate in certain projects because they may be religious in nature, one must keep

in mind that schools must protect individuals rights to free speech and free exercise of religion,

not subject religious actions or speech to a different standard. Schools must be places that treat

religion and religious beliefs with fairness and respect (Underwood, Webb, 222). Although

there was no justifiable basis for Karens dismissal, I do believe that there should be an

appropriate balance in the classroom concerning certain activities so that both the teacher and the

students needs are met.

In conclusion, the principal recommended Karen Whites dismissal based on her

ineffectively meeting the needs of students. I believe that there was not a justifiable basis for

Karens dismissal. Due to the free exercise of religion right, the Court will rule in her favor.

The Free Exercise Clause guarantees individuals the right to worship as they choose

(Underwood, Webb, 211). Karen Whites religion prohibits her to participate in certain projects

or activities, although approved by the school, that are religious in nature. Just as in the 1972

case of Wisconsin vs. Yoder the Court ruled that enforcing a state compulsory attendance law on

Amish children infringed on their free exercise of religion rights. The Court would also find that
Religion and Public Schools 5

the school infringed on Karen Whites free exercise of religion rights by recommending her

dismissal for disallowing activities that she believes are religious in nature.
Religion and Public Schools 6

References

Clever vs. Cherry Hill Tp. Bd. of Educ., 838 F. Supp. 929 (D. N.J. 1993).

Florey vs. Sioux Falls School District 49-5, 619 F.2d 1311 (8th Cir. 1980).

West Virginia State Board of Education vs. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943).

Wisconsin vs. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972).

Underwood, J., & Webb, L. (2006). Teacher's Rights. In School Law for Teachers (p. 211, 222).

Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education.