by Allie Martin
(AgapePress) – A California public school teacher has been forced to quit performing American Indian religious practices in her class after a religious civil liberties organization made it clear to school officials that the teacher's actions were unconstitutional.
The fourth-grade school teacher at Ellerhorst Elementary in Pleasanton, California, would routinely use a medicine wheel and conduct morning chants in class in which she addressed the north, south, east, and west, along with “Father Heaven” and “Mother Earth.”
Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, which was contacted by a concerned parent, says it did not take long for school attorneys to take action once they were notified of the situation.
“We … contacted the school district and … sent them a demand letter,” Dacus says. “I'm pleased to announce that their legal counsel has gone the right direction, and the teacher has been forced to halt all Native American religious rituals from this point forward.”
Dacus calls the outcome a “fine victory” for all. “We think many children now will be saved from having to go through rituals every day and saying chants every day to a god that they don't believe in, to a religion that's not their own. In the process, the parents and the families will be protected as well,” he says.
The fourth-grade teacher had been performing such rituals for ten years.
(This update courtesy of Agape Press.)
Social Workers Not Bound by Fourth Amendment?
by Allie Martin
(AgapePress) – The North Carolina Court of Appeals has ruled against a home-school family who said social workers are bound by the U.S. Constitution.
The case began in September 1999, when home-schooling parents Jim and Mary Ann Stumbo of Kings Mountain, North Carolina, were visited by a worker from child protective services. The agency had been called by a neighbor who saw the Stumbo's two-year-old daughter run out of her family's home without any clothes on while chasing the family cat.
The Stumbos refused to allow the investigator inside their home, and they were taken to court. In its ruling, the appeals court said the Stumbo's should have let the social worker into their home to interview their children.
But Scott Sommerville, an attorney with the Home School Legal Defense Association, says the ruling is headed for appeal.
“Normally when you're going to search someone's home or invade their private family life, you need to have some evidence that they've broken the law in some way,” Sommerville says. “In this case, all the evidence we've got is that a two-year-old chased her kitten out the front door when she wasn't wearing her pajamas. That really does not give you evidence that would suggest that the law's been broken in any way and that's why this constitutional issue is so important.”
The attorney says the Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unwarranted searches.
“Every year, there are approximately three million child-abuse investigations … two-thirds of those are unfounded,” he says. “Now this case says that those three million investigations are not searches and that therefore those two million innocent families whose homes and lives were invaded [have] nothing to complain about because they were never searched in any way, and the Constitution doesn't apply and the social workers really aren't subject to any kind of rules at all.”
The case now heads to the State Supreme Court. Sommerville says the case could wind up at the U.S. Supreme Court.