FFRF stops teacher’s religious promotion and bullying in New York classroom (Sept. 11, 2012)

A high school biology teacher in a Buffalo suburb removed religious displays from her classroom and will no longer talk about religion as a result of a Freedom From Religion Foundation complaint.

A concerned student complained to FFRF after a teacher invited a guest speaker who promoted the Christian religion and used quotes from Isaiah and Judges. There were also four posters with bible quotes in the teacher’s classroom. The complainant also noted that she made religious references while teaching and there was a cross painted in the school’s hallway.

FFRF Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert sent Cheektowaga School District Superintendent Dennis Kane a letter on June 7 to alert him to the constitutional violations. Kane said in a June 22 reply that the cross in the hallway and religious posters had been removed from the school. He said the district had discussed the student’s concerns with Silver.

The complainant notified FFRF that on the last day of school, June 12, the teacher had said the unidentified student who reported her first amendment violations lacked character and integrity. The teacher compared the complainant to a student who cheated on the class’s final exam, and said she had the right to promote her religious beliefs in her classroom.

Markert responded to the teacher’s inappropriate handling of the situation with a June 14 letter to Kane. “Bullying is rampant in schools,” Markert said. “Teachers should strive to conduct their classes in an inclusive manner so that students can participate fully without compromising their own personal beliefs.”

Kane responded with a Sept. 11 letter which stated that the teacher’s conduct on the last day of school was addressed and she has been directed to not discuss religion in her classroom.

Freedom From Religion Foundation