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Religion and Public Schools Dukes

Artifact #6

Religion and Public Schools

Tiffany Dukes

College of Southern Nevada

October 20, 2017

Religion and Public Schools Dukes

Religion and Public Schools

Karen White, a kindergartener teacher, denounced to both her students and their parents

that should would no longer be able to lead activity in any type of project of religious matters,

due to the fact that she was a Jehovahs Witness, she could no longer lead activities or participate

in projects that were religious in nature. This included holiday decorations, singing Happy

Birthday or reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Unfortunately the parents disputed against Young

and the principal recommended she dismissal based on her ineffectively meeting the needs of her


In the case Wisconsin v Yoder the court determined That in forcing a state compulsory

attendance law against Amish children after they had completed the eighth grade, infringed on

their freedom to exercise of religious rights (Wisconsin v Yoder, 1972) In similarity Yoder case

would argue Karen White, under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, has the right

to worship as she chooses because she 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


Another court case, West Virginia State Board of Education v Barnette, in which the

Board adopted a judgment which required students and teachers to stand and salute the flag

while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in school. Unfortunately because a student failed to do

so, they were seen as insubordination and resulted in the suspension. West Virginia State

School Boards were determined according to the courts that their actions were unconstitutional,
Religion and Public Schools Dukes

due to the fact that as a Jehovah Witness, students are forbidden from honoring the flag (West

Virginia State Board of Education v Barnette, 1943). This is also true in regards to the defense of

Karen White. The principal advocating for dismissal of a teacher simply for not participating in

certain activities, one being the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance would be unconstitutional

because it violates her free exercise of religion rights.

Furthermore, Whites principal recommended her dismissal centered on her notion that

Karen would no longer meet the needs of her students. Even though Young may not participate

in certain activities due to her of religion, does not mean she should is inadequate in the

classroom. In the court case, Florey v. Sioux Falls School District, the Court upheld that the

study and performance of religious songs, which includes Christmas carols, are constitutional if

their purpose is the advancement of students knowledge of societys cultural and religious

heritage (Florey v. Sioux Falls School District, 1980). In this case the courts could argue in the

principals defense. Stating that as long as the activities in the classroom show a purpose of the

advancement of the students knowledge of cultural and religious heritage, than Karen White

should be able to associate herself in such activities so that the students needs are met in an

educational manner. Further insuring that Karen will abstain from activities and projects because

they are religious in nature.

In addition to, the court care Clever v. 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 v Cherry Hill Tp. Bd. Of

Educ., 1993). The principal would appeal, as long as there are educational purposes which do not

appear to endorse religion within a holiday, Karen White should allow certain activities so that

she can productively accommodate the needs of the students. If the courts used this case they
Religion and Public Schools Dukes

would side with the principal because she wants to adequately meet the needs of her students

when pertaining to certain activities. She could argue that teachers should not exclude students

rights to acknowledge activities that may be religious in nature.

Last but not least, I believe that the principal was not justified in dismissing Karen based

on her ineffectively meeting the needs of students, due to the fact that she was simply exercising

her freedom of religion right. However, I do believe that necessary actions needed to take place

in order to ensure students were included in all activities and projects. Unfortunately, I believe

that the courts would side with the principal, arguing that the school infringed on Karen Whites

free exercise of religion rights by recommending her dismissal for disallowing activities that she

believe are religious in nature. 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.


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

Florey v Sioux Falls School District 49-5, 619 F.2d 1311 (8th Cir. 1980).
Religion and Public Schools Dukes

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

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