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Lost Liberties: Student Forbidden to Share Faith at School

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San Diego, CA – A former student at Gateway East High School of the Grossmont Union High School District has filed suit against GUHSD, saying he was disciplined and suspended for sharing his faith with fellow students and for bringing his Bible to school. The student is represented by Pacific Justice Institute.

The conflict for Kenneth Dominguez began when he returned from Christmas break in January 2010 and began telling his fellow students about his Christian faith. On several occasions he was reprimanded for doing so and eventually he was told not to bring his Bible to school. 

An administrator told him that he could not share his Christian faith with fellow students or bring his Bible to school because of separation of church and state. When he continued to discuss his faith and bring his Bible to school he was given a 2 day suspension on February 18, 2010.

The school gave him a form known as a “Corrective Education Referral Form,” which had the following notations:

“Student was told to stop preaching at school. Student continued after being warned several times.”

“Student will not bring Bible to school.”

Attorney Michael J. Peffer, who heads the Southern California office of Pacific Justice Institute, commented, “No student should be forced to leave his faith and Bible at the gate when he enters school grounds. We are looking forward to this opportunity to vindicate Mr. Dominguez and protect students throughout California.”

—From The Pacific Justice Institute

 

14 Comments

  1. Thank God for kids like Kenneth. Maybe more will start sharing their faith!

  2. An administrator told him that he could not share his Christian faith with fellow students or bring his Bible to school because of separation of church and state.

    If this happened, the administrator is clearly wrong. The ACLU agrees:

    The local branch of the American Civil Liberties Union said on the surface, the boy’s rights were violated as long as he wasn’t preaching in a way that was disrupting the school day. 10news.com

    But we haven’t heard the school’s side yet and frankly, many of these cases have turned out to be fraudulent. Since he’s no longer a student, I don’t know if this case will go anywhere.

  3. Seems a pretty cut and dried case.

    Assuming important details aren’t being left out by the defense.

  4. As with perdita and BathTub, I fully agree that if the story is true exactly as it’s presented, then the boy’s civil rights were violated.

    Having said that, that’s the exact same school district that I grew up in, so I have a bit of a personal connection to this story. I’ll notice that the channel 10 News article also contained the following:

    A spokeswoman for the Grossmont Union High School District told 10News there is much more to the story but that she couldn’t elaborate because of federal privacy laws.

    “There’s probably a whole story behind that… [he] probably didn’t get suspended for bringing a Bible, you know,” said Gateway East High School student Danny Dantes

    Again, if the story didn’t omit any important details, then I agree with the ACLU:

    The local branch of the American Civil Liberties Union said on the surface, the boy’s rights were violated as long as he wasn’t preaching in a way that was disrupting the school day.

    It’s that whole “as long as he wasn’t [doing anything] in a way that was disrupting the school day”.

    But that’s the clincher, there. Until we know more about that, I can’t say anything. And regardless to what some Christians here might think, I have no question that if the boy was simply discussing and sharing his faith, then the ACLU would take his case in a second, as they have for instances of actual civil liberties violations.

    I’m a bit skeptical here, though. We will see. If nothing else, thanks for bringing this to my attention, Steve, as I have a personal interest in this story now, given the location.

  5. When I wrote:

    And regardless to what some Christians here might think, I have no question that if the boy was simply discussing and sharing his faith, then the ACLU would take his case in a second, as they have for instances of actual civil liberties violations.

    I should have written:

    And regardless to what some Christians here might think, I have no question that if the boy was simply discussing and sharing his faith, then the ACLU would take his case in a second, as they have for instances of actual religious liberties violations.

  6. The school has now spoken:

    Dan Shinoff, an attorney representing Grossmont Union, said Dominguez has a record of disruptive behavior, that he was interrupting class and that the school district is committed to upholding the religious freedoms of all its students. Shinoff also said that Dominguez was never prohibited from bringing his Bible to school.

    http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/mar/31/student-suspended-bible-seized-was-christian-disru/

    Also from the same article: The case, which is attracting attention in the Christian community, is taking place in a district that is run by a board dominated by religious conservatives.


    This may be yet another case of all smoke no fire.

    Also, I stated that a number of these cases were fraudulent – that was a poor word choice. I should have said that a number of these cases were shown to be without merit.

  7. Steve – if it is determined that the school justly suspended this student for his behaviour and didn’t violate his rights as he claims, will you correct your post?

  8. Also from the same article: The case, which is attracting attention in the Christian community, is taking place in a district that is run by a board dominated by religious conservatives.

    As I said, that’s the school district that I grew up in, and that’s how it was back when I was in high school also (i.e., “dominated by religious conservatives”).

    That’s one of the main reasons why I was skeptical.

    At the same time, I had never heard of “Gateway East” and, after watching the 10 News video, I found the location and size of the school to be strange.

    After a bit more research, I found that Gateway East is one of those “high schools for naughty kids” or, in their own words:

    The purpose of Gateway East Community Day School is to provide an alternative learning opportunity to students who have been placed on suspended expulsion.

    Granted, that’s not really relevant to the conversation at hand, but like I said, I have a personal interest in this particular story.

  9. What I think is sometimes forgotten, is that these rights protect all of us. I don’t want to live in a country that would discriminate against the rights of Christians – or any other person of faith or non-faith.

    It’s that selfish morality at work. Laws that benefit all of us as a society will protect me and mine in a more stable manner than laws that just protect one small subset of society, even if I’m in that small subset.

    As an aside, I would be curious to know if the student’s family went to the school board before filing suit.

  10. Having said everything that I’ve said, in the link that perdita posted I found this:

    A suspension document from the school states: “Student was told to stop preaching at school. Student continued after being warned several times.” It goes on to say: “Student will not bring Bible to school.”

    Regardless of how disruptive the kid was (and I’m betting that he was very disruptive, to the point that discipline was justified), preventing him from bringing his Bible to school is unquestionably a breach of his civil liberties.

  11. Nohm, I agree re: bringing the Bible to school, but it isn’t all that clear whether that claim is true or not. That was part of the press release from PJI and I’m not sure if these sources are confirming the existence of this document or if they’re simply repeating the info from press release.

    Shinoff [attorney for the school] also said that Dominguez was never prohibited from bringing his Bible to school.

  12. perdita, I understand. I’m just trying to give them the benefit of the doubt in that particular situation (that the document exists and it says what they say it says).

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