Van Buren Superintendent Receives Letter Alleging Constitutional Violations
VAN BUREN (KFSM) – Van Buren School District Superintendent Kerry Schneider received a letter on Monday (Sept. 8) from the Freedom From Religion Foundation alleging that constitutional violations took place at a Van Buren school on Sept. 3, officials say.
The letter states an assembly that violated constitutional rights took place at Central Elementary School at 913 N. 24th St. Students were told that the assembly was for “everyone,” and there were games and snacks, according to the letter.
When students arrived at the assembly, they were asked to respond via hand raising to various religious questions, including: if they believed in God, if they went to church and if they had never been to church, the letter states.
The assembly was run by school staff, and students were encouraged to ask other students “if they had Jesus in their hearts,” according to the letter. Students were also told if they didn’t know about Jesus that staff members could help them, the letter states.
Another issue stated in the letter is that there is a sign reading “God Loves You” in front of the school’s office.
Schneider told 5NEWS he got the letter in an email at approximately 1:35 p.m. on Monday. He said that the issue was a personnel matter, and he couldn’t comment on it.
Schneider did confirm that the alleged incident is being investigated.
“We’re gonna have to look into it,” he said.
Schneider spoke with the principal of Central Elementary School, and when the investigation is completed, he said the results would be given to the school district’s attorney, and the lawyer would then craft a response to the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
The letter requested an investigation, and it also asked that Schneider “ensure that all school staff members are aware of restrictions on religious activity imposed by the Establishment Clause.”
The letter also requested that staff members involved in the assembly be disciplined and have a notice of that discipline placed on their employment file. Finally, the organization requested that the “God Loves You” sign be removed.
“Please inform us in writing of the action you are taking to address these issues,” the letter states.
Schneider would not say if the events detailed in the letter actually took place.