by Liku Zelleke
A lawsuit has been filed against the Sabine Parish School Board in Louisiana, in a U.S. District Court in Shreveport, by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of Scott and Sharon Lane and their three children.
The complaint lodged sates that almost as soon as the Lanes had enrolled their son, a lifelong Buddhist of Thai descent, in the Negreet High School, he found himself at the receiving end of harassment by the school’s staff.
The lawsuit also names as defendants Superintendent Sara Ebarb, the high school’s principal Gene Wright and the school’s science teacher Rita Roark.
It stated that Roark had repeatedly taught students that the Earth was created by God 6,000 years ago, that evolution was impossible and that the Bible is 100 percent true.
Her tests regularly feature religious questions, according to the lawsuit, and on one such test she included: “Isn’t it amazing what the ___ has made!!!!” When the boy didn’t write “Lord”, the expected answer, she belittled him in front of the rest of the class.
Also, while studying other religions, she told students that Buddhism is “stupid.”
The complaint goes on to mention that the school regularly incorporates official Christian prayer into class and school events. The electronic marquee in front of the school greets students by scrolling Bible verses as they enter the building.
When the Lanes objected, Ebarb told them that they were in the Bible belt and suggested they should change their son’s faith.
According to the lawsuit, Ebarb said, “The school district’s administration – all the way up to the superintendent of schools – not only knows about these activities, but endorses and encourages all of this.”
Marjorie Esman, Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana, said, “Public schools should be welcoming places for students of all backgrounds. No child should be harassed and made to feel like an outsider in his own classroom, and students should not have to endure school officials constantly imposing their religious beliefs on them while they are trying to learn.”