Sadly, children will often hear improper speech from parents, family members, neighbors, or even other children, and then repeat it. But can a first grader write something outrageously improper in a poem about a grandpa? Even about grandpa’s military service? And can the student writing be so improper that it needs to be censored by school administrators? Apparently yes. A little girl, who attends the first grade at the West Marion Elementary School in the McDowell County School District in North Carolina, a state that has a large number of military veterans, has riled her public school administrators with her offensive speech.
She loves her grandfathers, and with Veterans Day approaching, she wanted to commemorate their military service. To do so, she wrote a poem that shockingly included the lines “He prayed to God for peace, he prayed to God for strength,” to describe the historical actions of her grandfathers during the Vietnam War. However, a “community” member complained about the inclusion of the young student’s poem in a Veteran’s Day ceremony. As a result, the school district forced her to remove those offensive lines because her poem could not include the word “God.” Really? In North Carolina?
Attorneys for the Alliance Defending Freedom (“ADF”, formerly the Alliance Defense Fund) have written a letter seeking clarification from the school district that it will not censor this student’s speech, or a legal team will seek a “remedy” to the district’s problem with their student. In the ADF letter to the school district, the attorneys noted that censorship “was a violation of her First Amendment rights,” and that it is “a fundamental principle of constitutional law that school officials may not suppress or exclude the personal speech of students simply because the speech is religious or contains a religious perspective.” Of course, any such censorship by a school district makes a mockery of both free speech and religious freedom.
Many public school officials incorrectly think that by allowing a student to express a religious idea violates the “separation of church and state.” But the ADF letter noted that the Supreme Court has never held that the Constitution requires “complete separation of church and state.” Indeed.
What the school district’s administrators have done to this little child is outrageous conduct by despotic school administrators run amuck. Especially as we approach the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, I hope that the parents of public school students in the McDowell County School District express their outrage to their local public officials. If you want to add your voice, you can telephone her school principal, Desarae Kirkpatrick, at 1.828.738.3353, or School District Superintendant Gerri Martin at 1.828.652.4535 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Eastern time. And some continue to wonder why almost two million children are homeschooled in our nation at great personal sacrifice to the children’s parents? It does seem quite obvious, doesn’t it? Even in North Carolina.