Monday, December 28, 2015

Suit Challenges Religious Impact on Public School's Curriculum

A lawsuit brought in a Florida state court last month on behalf of a 5th grader by the student's father attacks the way in which a Florida school district teaches about religion and the way in which it allows religion to impact its secular curriculum, including teaching about evolution. The complaint (full text) in Silver v. School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, (FL Cir. Ct., filed 11/24/2015), contends that textbooks "provide false, misleading, and dangerous information about certain religions, and purposely omit factual information if it appears unfavorable to them and/or politically incorrect.... "  It goes on to allege that "the danger of fundamentalist religion is often obscured and downplayed due to the failure of Defendant School Board to properly monitor its textbooks, and the efforts of fundamentalist religious believers to impose their un-scientific, irrational beliefs such as creationism, which masquerades as science upon the children of this state and county." The lawsuit also contends that the curriculum inaccurately portrays Islam as a peaceful religion, and that schools teach "terrible lies about Jews as if they were historical fact." WPFB reported on the lawsuit in a Dec. 16 posting.

The complaint contends that the school district's practices violate various statutory and state constitutional provisions on education, as well as the 1st Amendment's free exercise and establishment clauses. [Thanks to Scott Mange and Ed Brayton for information on the case.]