The very next day that my child attended school, I checked his take home folder as always, and she had sent me a local church flyer for VBS. The timing was just a little ironic.
I only ever intended to clarify with her for future reference, that what happened and the way it happened was not appropriate. I assumed the conversation would go more along the lines of "Oh I'm sorry, I didn't think anyone would mind, won't happen again"; end of discussion... unfortunately not.. She clearly overstepped her boundaries yet thinks she did no wrong and had no intention of stopping. The issue then became one of a school teacher who is willfully exempting herself from the law in a school district that is infamous for such.
My conversation about the subject was overheard by a local reporter and, in consideration of the bigger picture, I feel it is something worth standing up for so I agreed to an interview.
I think it's safe to say she thought I was an atheist who was offended by "Jesus' name", but in reality, there are many many Christians, even entire denominations, who see the importance of separation of church and state and there is quite the case to be made against what she did based solely on the Bible and the fundamentals of Christianity which sadly, many Christians know little of. For personal reasons, I was compelled to politely explain to her why I, as a Christian, cannot condone these type of offenses in hopes that whether she ever acknowledges it or not, she might have a better understanding.
(Editing to add: Before sending this letter, I tried asking my child if his teacher had made him pray or talked to him about religion any other time. I intentionally asked in a positive way so he would feel free to tell me, but I could not get him to answer me. He kept looking away and didn't want to talk about it. I try not to make assumptions, but I did find that odd. Now that school is out, he has been randomly telling me that she taught him things. The other day he says "Mommy, I have Jesus in my heart, Ms __ just tell me that". Then something about Jesus making him be a good boy and making him grow up. It's hard to get a clear answer out of a four year old, but I repeatedly asked him in several different ways who told him that and he consistently said that this teacher along with her aid, both by name. told him these things together. It very much appears that after our conversation, she made an extra effort to indoctrinate my child. Not only without my consent as would be the case before, but now quite literally against my consent. There are thousands of varying beliefs just among Christians, hence, I am careful about what doctrines are taught to my child and by whom.)
"The district or an individual employee may not require, encourage, or coerce a student to pray or not to pray. page3
Under federal law, is prayer or other religious speech permitted over a public address system?
A public school may not permit school-sponsored prayer to be given over the public address system at school or school events, even if the prayer is given by a student." Page 6
"Is student-initiated, student-led prayer allowed at graduation ceremonies? The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that school officials cannot arrange for prayer to be included in a graduation ceremony." Page 8
"May employees express their religious views on campus?
Employees’ statements in their official capacity are attributed to the school district, and consequently, employees are not at liberty to express their personal religious beliefs in a way that violates the constitutional prohibition on an establishment of religion." Page 11
"Can a school employee lead or participate in a religious activity with students?
A school employee may not lead or participate in a religious activity with students while actingin the employee’s official capacity." Page 12
Editing to add:
The motive behind the media attention was NOT because of a "little prayer", but because of a school system that is steadily becoming infamous for religious bullying, segregation and just generally running a muck. I agreed to speak out NOT because of the prayer and NOT because I have any personal problem with the teacher, I do not, but because of all the students in this area who are bullied and mistreated for not conforming to the popular view. If nothing else, I hope they know that they are not overlooked and there ARE people who care and are willing to stand up for what's right. If any of you are reading this, please don't ever feel that you or your issues are unimportant, and please do not be afraid to reach out!