School board to hold public meeting after Bible class controversy

(Source: MGN Online)
(Source: MGN Online)

ROWAN COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - Less than a week after a group announced a complaint against the Rowan-Salisbury School system for its Bible classes, the school board plans to meet with the public.

A complaint was filed last month by the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

WBTV learned last week that the group sent a letter in late September to the Rowan-Salisbury School system saying that the schools "must immediately drop" elementary school-level bible classes.

The letter, which was sent by Attorney Patrick Elliott, names one specific teacher and says that the 45-minute sessions are held weekly, along with physical education and art classes, in at least three schools including Cleveland, Woodleaf, and Mount Ulla Elementary schools.

The classes are funded by local churches and nonprofit groups, not the school system, but are held on school grounds and during school hours.

"Under firm Supreme Court precedent, such outside funding does not relieve the school of its obligation to ensure secular education," the FFRF said.

The FFRF says they received a report about one specific session in which the teacher presented the Bible as literal fact.

The group said that the teacher taught the children about a seven-day creation, gave "examples of 'God's plan' that 'clearly' showed the universe was created with a purpose," and gave the students what the FFRF calls "supposed examples" of the Bible predicting scientific discoveries.

"It is appalling that the District would take away from instructional time to indoctrinate children in Christian dogma," Elliott said.

He added that "the district's ill-advised decision to offer elementary bible classes calls into question the legitimacy of the bible classes also being taught in the middle schools and high school."

He said the FFRF is asking the district to investigate all such classes.

WBTV reached out to the school district on Wednesday. They confirmed that they did receive the letter, and said that their attorneys were reviewing the information.

District superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody, along with the chairman of the school board and school system attorneys met for several hours last week to determine how to respond to the letter, but said they said they had no comment or statement to make.

The school board will hold a public session Thursday night for the public to comment on the classes being offered.

Board officials say they will have legal counsel on hand at the meeting to help answer questions.

The meeting will be held at the school district's administrative building along Long Street in East Spencer. The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m.

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