FFRF halts bible as algebra text (Sept. 2, 2011)

A Texas public school superintendent called a math teacher’s religious school supply list “a harmless error” after receiving an FFRF letter of objection. FFRF Staff Attorney Stephanie Schmitt sent a letter Aug. 30 on behalf of a district parent to Superintendent Stan Surratt of the Lindale Independent School District and to Principal Vicki Thrasher at Lindale Junior High School in Lindale, Texas.

The parent alerted FFRF about math teacher Amy Priddy’s inappropriate supply list for eighth-grade algebra students. Included under “Classroom Expectations” was “Listen: to the Spirit of the Lord, to all instructions. . .” Another “expectation” was to prepare “your supplies (notebook, textbook, Bible, pencils, graph paper, spiral notebook, red pen, homework, etc.)”

The list imposes the teacher’s religious sentiments on her students, and thus violates the U.S. Constitution, Schmitt noted. “Mrs. Priddy’s decision to include ‘Listen: to the Spirit of the Lord’ and a bible as classroom expectations distributed to parents and students crosses the line because she is endorsing and promoting religion while acting in her official capacity as a school district employee.” (This apparently was the teacher’s personal list because the district’s supply list online was different.)

On Sept. 6, FFRF recieved a letter from the Lindale superintendent, Stan Surratt, quoting Priddy as saying, “I used a previous supply list [from a private school].”

KYTX, the CBS affiliate in nearby Tyler, reported Sept. 2 that the school takes the complaint “very seriously,” according to Surratt. “We’re very aware of the law. It was just a simple mistake.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation