Liberty Elementary on Notice for State/Church Violations
UPDATE: We have received a response from Michael A. Tripple, legal counsel for the School City of Mishawaka, in regard to our March 30, 2018 letter addressing a first grade teacher assigning an art project focused on the biblical nativity story. Mr. Tripple reported that the issue was discussed with the teacher and that “the administration has been assured that content of the nature described in [our letter] will not be used in class work in the future."
This is an acceptable response and a victory for the separation of church and state. To the family who reported the violation, congratulations on your victory and don’t hesitate to report any future violations here.
Northern Indiana Atheists and the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) puts School City of Mishawaka on notice regarding an unconstitutional religious lesson that took place at Liberty Elementary School.
School City of Mishawaka serves approximately 5,000 students in kindergarten through high school at their nine public schools. They are located in northcentral Indiana in the heart of Mishawaka. Liberty Elementary School in Mishawaka, Indiana serves 457 students in grades PK-6.
Concerned parents notified Northern Indiana Atheists in late December 2017 of the violation. 1st-grade teacher, Melissa Levy, assigned an art project around the winter holidays that focused on the christian nativity story.
Following this art project, the child saw a picture of Jesus and explained that Ms. Levy taught their class that Christmas was Jesus’ birthday and she read a book about it to the class.
On March 30, 2018, FFRF sent a letter to Superintendent Dr. A. Dean Speicher asking that Ms. Levy be reminded of her obligation to remain neutral toward religion while acting in her capacity as a public school teacher and requesting assurances that she will not teach or otherwise promote the religious aspects of Christmas, or any other religious lessons, in the future.
School City of Mishawaka has a non-discriminatory policy that says they are committed to equal opportunity and do not discriminate on the basis of age, race, color, creed, sex, handicapping conditions, or national origin including limited English proficiency, in any employment opportunity. No person is excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or otherwise subjected to unlawful discrimination on such basis under any educational program or student activity.
Superintendent Dr. A. Dean Speicher has yet to return Northern Indiana Atheists' phone calls in regards to this unconstitutional policy violation.
See a copy of the letter FFRF sent on behalf of the family.