A New York teacher has decided to take on her school district after the superintendent ordered her to remove all religious themed materials from her classroom or face losing her job. Last June Joelle Silver, who teaches in the Cheektowaga, New York Central School District, received a “counseling letter,” signed by the district's superintendent, ordering her to remove all religious items from her classroom, including inspirational posters openly displayed, along with discreet personal sticky notes with Bible quotes and religious messages that she kept on her desk, explained the American Freedom Law Center, which is representing Silver in the suit.
According to the Christian News Network, one of the posters included the Bible verse, “Be on guard. Stand true to what you believe. Be courageous. Be strong. And everything you do must be done in love” (1 Corinthians 6:13-14). Also displayed was a quote from President Ronald Reagan which read, “Without God there is no virtue because there is no prompting of the conscience.... Without God there is a coarsening of the society. Without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure.... If ever we forget that we are one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”
The letter from the district advised Silver that if she needs “to occasionally glance at inspirational Bible verses between classes during the course of the day” she should “keep such material in a discreet folder that only [she] will have access to” and only “so long as [she is careful] not to share it or disclose its content to [her] students or their parents or guardians.”
Silver's suit charges that the district demanded she reevaluate her role as faculty adviser for the student Bible club, to the point that school officials “pressured Silver into resigning as faculty adviser for the student Bible Study Club, which was formed pursuant to the Equal Access Act.”
In her suit, Silver charges that the district stipulated in the letter that “if you choose to continue monitoring the Bible Study Club next school year, you must carefully re-examine [district policies], so that you can better protect that club from being disciplined and possibly banned.
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