The Oak Grove School District in suburban Kansas City is under fire from the leftist organization, Freedom From Religion Foundation.
The group, known for forcing school districts into expensive settlements over everything from districts allowing students to pray on school property to after school bible clubs, is in a tizzy.
“It is well-settled law that public schools may not advance or endorse religion,” Sam Grover, the group’s associate counsel, wrote in a letter to the district.. The letter cited several complaints from a parent:
- A public prayer was made before a potluck barbecue for teachers and administrators.
- Students were sent home with fliers for Vacation Bible School and a Christian summer camp.
- Crosses are displayed in school offices.
- Mandatory faculty meetings open with prayer.
“It is inappropriate for any school employee to promote their personal religious beliefs to their co-workers,” Grover told the Kansas City Star. “Our goal is to educate the entity and hold them to change their practices.”
The letter also addressed the teaching of creationism. “Teaching creationism or any of its offshoots, such as intelligent design, in a public school is unlawful, because creationism is not based in fact; it is not science, It is wildly inappropriate for the beliefs of one school of religious thought to be pushed on a captive audience of public-school students.”
But the leftist organization isn’t just upset about how evolution is taught, they’re also complaining that a district BBQ for teachers and staff started with the food being blessed; fliers being sent home with students that included summer VBS and Christian camp options; and staff having displayed small crosses on their personal work spaces in the front office.
Oak Grove, it would seem, has offended one parent and the Freedom From Religion organization on numerous levels.
The school district said it is investigating the complaints while parents rally around the district.
Dr. Bryan Thomsen says that he “was a little surprised that it was an outside organization from a different state that was concerned about what we were doing in our schools.”
Thomsen clarified that the district was willing to make changes if necessary. He also said that the district was taking care of things internally and working on a written response for the Freedom from Religion Foundation.
The foundation said it will pursue further action if it doesn’t have a response within 30 days of sending the letter The parents who triggered the complaints is willing to filing a lawsuit if necessary..
“We are not interested in taking funds from a public-school district,” Grover said. “But we are certainly not just going to go away.”
The Oak Grove district, he said, “has neglected its obligations to protect the religious freedom and rights of conscience of its students and faculty.”
Surveyed by a local TV station, most parents said they were comfortable with both sides of the origins of life being presented, saying more information is better than less information. No one surveyed had an issue with any of the other complaints.