CYPRESS, Texas — Officials at elementary school in Texas have launched an investigation after a teacher allegedly banned a second grader from reading the Bible during ‘Read to Myself’ time.
The Plano-based Christian legal organization Liberty Institute sent a letter on Monday to the Fairbanks Independent School District and Hamilton Elementary School about the matter after receiving a complaint from the parents of the child. The family is remaining anonymous for fear of retribution.
According to the letter, “a teacher at Hamilton Elementary School prohibited a second-grade student from reading the Bible during ‘read to myself’ time, [stating] that the Bible did not meet the requirements of a ‘Just Right’ book, and that the teacher prohibited the student from bringing a Bible to school again.”
A “Just Right” book is a publication of the student’s choice that is on the child’s level and can be comprehended. The Liberty Institute outlined in its correspondence that if children are allowed to select secular books for “Read to Myself” time, then they should also be permitted to choose religious books as well.
“It is our understanding from other students and other CFISD schools’ published guidelines for ‘Just Right’ books that children are allowed to choose or bring reading material of their choice as long as it fits the ‘Just Right’ criteria,” the letter stated.
“[T]he Bible is clearly an appropriate book,” it continued, in light of the requirement that the book be on the student’s reading level. “The student chose to read the Bible because it is a book of interest. The Bible is suitable because the student can read it, comprehend most of it, and its vocabulary is within the student’s abilities.”
The Liberty Institute requested a response within 30 days in an effort to regain the student’s rights.
“We expect Cy Fair ISD officials to resolve this unfortunate incident quickly and amicably by informing us that they have addressed this matter with District employees, and by assuring us that this will not happen again,” Michael Berry, Liberty Institute Senior Counsel, wrote in a news release about the matter.
“More than forty years ago, the Supreme Court famously stated that students do not ‘shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate,’” he added. “That means that second graders have the right to read the Bible during ‘read to myself’ time.”
On Wednesday, officials with Cyrpess Fairbanks Independent School District released a statement, advising that it was investigating the matter.
“As a school district, our policies clearly support the First Amendment rights of all students,” it read. “We take any allegation involving the civil liberties of our students seriously and will continue to address all concerns reported.”
As previously reported, an investigation was also recently launched at an elementary school in Florida after a kindergartner alleged that her lunch monitor prohibited her from praying over her food.