In Each Issue

Legally Speaking

The answers or opinions expressed in this article are not intended to render legal advice. The factual and legal issues in each circumstance must be considered and may require the advice of an attorney.

Question: My public school is in the process of choosing a character education curriculum for grades K-5 and possibly older grades. Do you recommend a curriculum that promotes biblical principles but is appropriate for public schools?
Answer: Check out The Power of Why from Family Engaged Learning. In addition to promoting character, it also benefits districts by helping to increase family engagement. It works well as a curriculum or as an intervention program.
Also, members of our leadership team have found great success at the middle school level using the Anti-Virus curriculum. It was specifically developed for public schools, but it lines up with biblical principles.


Question: I am very interested in joining CEAI. As a Christian teacher in a public school, your mission statement and goals are right in line with my beliefs. However, I do not believe any CEAI networks are located in my area. If I were to join your organization, would I still receive the membership benefits, legal backing, and protection if I ever encountered a situation where it was needed? 
Answer: Yes, when you join as a full member you will receive $2,000,000 Professional Liability Insurance with Job Action Protection benefits. If you should need to speak with an educational or legal consultant, you would simply call the CEAI Membership Service Center at 1-888-798-1124. Our Director of Legal Services (an attorney) and educational consultants are here to serve you. If local legal representation is needed, we will connect you with an attorney in your area—or you can choose one of your own, and the legal fees would be covered per the details of your insurance policy. 


Question: I've been pondering my classroom management plan. I disagree with the educational ideas about giving lots of rewards, etc. because I believe it really sets kids up for an unrealistic expectation for the future. I have seen this mentality in the workplace with employees expecting to get special rewards just for doing their job. My goal is to create a classroom filled with both discipline and grace. I'm looking for suggestions on how to implement my classroom management goal with upper elementary students.
Answer: We have seen the following plan work: Post a few simple classroom expectations/rules that are based on respect for the teacher and/or fellow students.  Point out when one of these rules is broken. If breaking them continues, add a simple consequence. When you see the behavior you like, let the student know you noticed it. If a student respects the teacher, a positive response is all that is needed.

     

Question: I am a superintendent in a public school. If I were interested in starting a voluntary Bible study with other area superintendents not under my authority, would it be inappropriate to use my school email address to send a survey gauging the interest of individuals in the possibility of leading a Bible study? 
Answer: Although many regularly use school emails for non-school reasons, I suggest you do not. As a rule, district email services should not be used for personal or religious reasons. If someone wants to challenge you, they could hold this against you. I suggest using your home computer and email address to send out the survey. It would be ideal to use the others’ private email addresses, but I realize you may not have access to such. As long as you initiate the survey from home via your computer using your personal email address, you should be okay. During my time as a superintendent, a board member publicly proclaimed that he was going to get rid of the Christian influence in the district, starting with me. One of his many efforts included reviewing all of my emails and telephone calls in an attempt to find me crossing the line…he never found anything to use against me. While I was open about my faith and lived out biblical principles in the workplace, I was sensitive not to cross the line.

Submit: To submit questions regarding school law issues relating to religious freedoms to experienced attorneys, visit Ask an Attorney on our website.  For all other legal inquiries email service@ceai.org. To submit questions regarding educational issues to our experienced educators, visit Ask an Educator on our website.

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