IN THE SCHOOL
Liberty Institute Attorneys Submit Demand Letter to Broward County Public Schools;
Press Availability Scheduled Today, May 5, at 2 PM ET.
FT. LAUDERDALE, FL, May 5, 2014—Today, Liberty Institute sent a demand letter to Broward County Public Schools on behalf of a fifth-grade Park Lakes Elementary School student, Giovanni Rubeo, whom a teacher prohibited from reading the Bible during “free reading” time. Liberty Institute Senior Counsel Jeremy Dys, along with Giovanni and his father, Paul Rubeo, will hold a media availability to discuss the issue with working press on the sidewalk near corner of East Broward Boulevard and Third Avenue outside of the U.S. Federal Building and Courthouse, Monday, May 5 at 2 PM ET. The address is 299 East Broward Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301.
The Park Lakes Elementary School teacher ordered Giovanni—while in front of his peers—to place the Bible on her desk and then to “get his father on the phone.” In a voicemail, the school official told Giovanni’s father:
“Good morning Mr. Rubeo, Mrs. Thomas. Uh. Uh. 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. He said, if I told him to put it away you s-- … you said not to do that. So, please give me a call, I need to have some understanding on direction to him about the book he’s reading as opposed to the curriculum for public school. Mrs. S. Thomas. Thank you. Have a wonderful day. Bye-bye.”
Listen to the voicemail here.
“Banning religious books like the Bible violates Giovanni’s civil rights to religious free speech and free exercise,” said Hiram Sasser, Liberty Institute Director of Litigation. “The school’s actions exemplify the hostility to religion that the US Supreme Court has condemned.”
In its letter to Broward County Public Schools, Liberty Institute attorneys explain that the school’s decision and the teacher’s conduct toward Giovanni violate the Establishment Clause, the Free Speech Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the U.S. Constitution. In addition, the letter informs Broward County Schools that Liberty Institute, on behalf of the Rubeos, will take legal action if the school district fails within 10 days to respond with an apology and agreement to permit students to read religious books, including the Bible, during free reading times.
View a copy of the letter here.
“We expect Broward County Public School officials to resolve this unfortunate incident quickly and amicably,” Jeremy Dys, Liberty Institute Senior Counsel, said. “Absent such an apology and assurance that students in Broward County Public Schools may read religious books like the Bible during free reading times, our client is prepared to take legal action.”
About Liberty Institute
Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches, in the military and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit www.LibertyInstitute.org.