School administrators and employees of the Rankin Mississippi public school district have been intentionally, knowingly, openly and notoriously violating the First Amendment constitutional rights of parents and students by proselytizing Christianity in the classrooms for many decades. Students have been routinely forced by their Principal, Charles Frazier, to attend a series of assemblies promoting Christianity.
In 2013, a federal lawsuit complaining about this practice was settled wherein U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves issued a court order explicitly barring all such activities in the schools. Notwithstanding the settlement and court order the same school district administrators and employees began to breach and defy the court almost immediately.
They permitted The Gideon’s International religious organization to hand out Christian Bibles to elementary school students during regular school hours in their classrooms and conducted Christian prayers led by local Christian ministers during school assemblies.
"The district's breach did not take very long and it occurred in a very bold way," observed Judge Reeves when the matter was brought to his attention by Plaintiffs. "Its conduct displays that the district did not make any effort to adhere to the agreed judgment."
Judge Reeves is convinced that school district operatives have been trying to indoctrinate students with Christianity. So he fined the school district $7,500, ordered it to pay Plaintiff’s legal fees, and threatened a $10,000 fine for any future infractions. “From the accounts detailed in the record, it appears that incorporating religious script and prayers with school activities has been a long-standing tradition of the district,” he found.
Attorneys for the school district still maintain that the religious activities are not violative of the court order. In a statement issued by one attorney, Rankin County Superintendent Lynn Weathersby said that despite the court's ruling, students and teachers will continue to pray. However, district staff will have to adjust in order to comply with the ruling.
What’s wrong with this picture?
The innocent taxpayers of Rankin Mississippi are getting stuck with financial consequences for the intentional wrongdoing of individual school district administrators and employees – that’s what’s wrong! Why should the taxpayers be paying for this?
The students and parents in the Rankin Mississippi public schools are paying the price for the conduct of other guilty individuals -- that’s what’s wrong! Why should they be made to sacrifice for this?
Yes, the school district is ultimately liable for breach of the settlement and court order, but the Judge should have held the individual wrongdoers responsible for their acts -- that’s what’s wrong!
The individuals permitting and conducting the prayers and bible distributions should be paying the fines. The penalties should be coming directly out of their pockets. The school principal and district superintendent should be held in contempt of court. They should be fired. That’s the only sure way to put an end to this intentional lawlessness.
I hate it when government wrongdoers get off scot free for intentionally violating constitutional rights while the taxpayers get stuck with responsibility.
That’s what’s wrong with this picture.