A Florida teacher told her fifth-grade student that he was not allowed to read the Bible in school. Paul Rubeo, the father of the boy attending the school, part of the Broward Public School District, said he was stunned when listening to a voicemail from the teacher about his son Giovanni reading the Bible in class.
The Florida school teacher reportedly left this voicemail for Paul Rubeo after catching Giovanni reading the Bible at school, “Good morning Mr. Rubeo. Giovanni called you because I asked him to. I noticed that he has a book, a religious book, in the classroom. He’s not permitted to read those books in my classroom.”
According to the Rubeo family, the ordeal with the Ft. Lauderdale school began when Giovanni chose to read his Bible during “free-reading time” at his Florida elementary school. The teacher reportedly told the little boy to put his Bible away because it was not an “approved book.” Giovanni did as he was told, although he did not understand the problem, according to his father.
Giovanni said, “I wanted to read the Bible because it gives me a lot of wisdom and helps me a lot. Every other kid got to read whatever book they wanted, so why couldn’t I read the Bible?”
Paul Rubeo searched online to learn what he could do to help his son be able to read the Bible in the classroom. The Florida dad ultimately told his son’s teacher that she was violating his constitutional rights by banning the Bible as a free reading choice at school. The elder Rubeo told Giovanni to call him if the teacher made him put his Bible away again during free reading time.
When Giovanni tried to read his Bible during free reading time again at school, the Florida teacher reportedly told the boy he had to put the book on her desk. The child objected to the demand and told his teacher that his dad said not being allowed to read the Bible was violation of his First Amendment free speech rights.
Once again the fifth grader was ordered to call his father – while the other students watched and listened. “I was shocked and frustrated. Then I felt angry that the school would take it to this level and be so forward about it,” Paul Rubeo said when asked about the second Bible at school phone call.
The father said that phone calls to both the Ft. Lauderdale elementary school principal and the district superintendent yielded no results. He contacted the Liberty Institute for assistance. Attorneys at the Liberty Institute asserts the First Amendment rights of Giovanni to read the Bible during free reading time at school.
The district officials reportedly argued that the Bible ban was not issued during free reading time but during the Accelerated Reader Program time. The school officials claimed that religious books were not permitted as a part of the reading program. The Liberty Institute researched the reading program and found that 60 of the Bible’s 66 books, were indeed included in the more than 1,000 book titles approved by the district for the Accelerated Reader Program. Giovanni is now allowed to read his Bible at school. “It made me feel god to know students have the constitutional right to read their Bible,” 12-year-old said.
What do you think about the school attempting to enact a Bible ban during reading time in the classroom?
[Image via: Bill Graham website]