The lawsuit was filed against the Sabine Parish School Board Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Shreveport on behalf of Scott and Sharon Lane and their three children. According to the complaint from the ACLU and its Louisiana chapter, the Lanes enrolled their son — a lifelong Buddhist of Thai descent — in Negreet High School and he quickly became the target of harassment by the school’s staff.
“Public schools should be welcoming places for students of all backgrounds,” said Marjorie Esman, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana. “No child should be harassed and made to feel like an outsider in his own classroom, and students should not have to endure school officials constantly imposing their religious beliefs on them while they are trying to learn.”
In addition to the school board, the lawsuit names as defendant Superintendent Sara Ebarb, Negreet High Principal Gene Wright and science teacher Rita Roark. An office worker who answered the phone at the district Wednesday said Ebarb was out of town and unavailable for comment. A message on an automated voice mail system for a home number listed for Ebarb in Shreveport wasn’t immediately returned.
The lawsuit said Roark has “repeatedly taught students that the earth was created by God 6,000 years ago, that evolution is ‘impossible’ and that the Bible is ‘100 percent true.’
“She also regularly features religious questions on her tests such as “Isn’t it amazing what the —————— has made!!!!”
When the Lanes’ son “did not write in Roark’s expected answer (LORD), she belittled him in front of the rest of the class.”
It gets worse, according to the lawsuit and evidentiary documents filed in support of it:
After learning of Negreet’s unlawful practices and Roark’s harassment of their son, C.C.’s parents rose to his defense, taking their concerns to Defendant Sara Ebarb, the Sabine Parish Superintendent of Schools. But she took no corrective action. On the contrary, she told the Lanes that “[t]his is the Bible Belt” and that they would simply have to accept that teachers would proselytize students. She also questioned whether C.C. “has to be raised Buddhist” and whether he could “change” his faith. Finally, Ebarb advised Plaintiffs that C.C. should transfer to another District school that had “more Asians.”
The day following her meeting with the Lanes, Ebarb wrote a letter to Principal Wright stating that she approved of Wright’s practices in general and that she approved of the fact that the teachers at Negreet acted consistent with their religious beliefs. Wright read the letter to the whole school over the public-address system.
Again, if this is true, that teacher, principal, and school system need to have a Come To Deity Of Your Choice moment. I dislike secularist fundamentalism in public schools, but this Christianity-promotion — and not just Christianity promotion, it seems, but a fundamentalist brand of Christianity (e.g., one that insists on the literalness of the Bible) — is way, way over the top.