East Central Middle School is in the spotlight after a local resident reported a teacher’s actions to the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a prominent Wisconsin-based atheist organization known for its nationwide campaigns against Christian practices on public school premises.
Nationally syndicated columnist Todd Starnes reports that the teacher, who remains unnamed, is alleged to have written personal prayers on cards and discreetly placed them beneath student desks during the school’s initial week.
The FFRF swiftly condemned the teacher’s actions in a public statement: “Teachers must not use their role to propagate personal religious beliefs. Such acts convey to students and their guardians that they aren’t valued members of the community unless they share those beliefs. Moreover, schools are mandated to ensure that teachers don’t exploit their authority to spread their religious sentiments.”
The situation was brought to the attention of the FFRF through a social media post by a grandmother who, inspired by the teacher’s gesture, encouraged her network to slip prayer cards into their grandchildren’s backpacks as a gesture of blessing.
She said in her post, “The idea sprang from the teacher tucking prayer cards beneath her student’s desks. As a grandmother, I cherish my mornings driving my grandchildren to school and praying for them and their future partners.”
In response, FFRF’s attorney, Anne Nicol Gaylor, penned a letter highlighting the teacher’s alleged violation of students’ First Amendment rights. “The district must probe this matter and guarantee that this teacher, and indeed all educators, abstain from endorsing or fostering prayer in their capacity as teachers,” Gaylor emphasized.
Superintendent David Pickett responded swiftly, assuring FFRF of appropriate action against the implicated teacher.
In a written statement, Supt. Pickett conveyed, “The accused teacher was formally admonished on September 13, 2023, by the principal of East Central Middle School. The notice of reprimand underlined the grave nature of the teacher’s actions and unequivocally stated that educators must not use their platform to advance personal religious convictions.”
Furthermore, Pickett emphasized, “Any religious expression within classroom environments is a breach of constitutional rights and must be halted immediately.”