In Each Issue

Q & A

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.

I am a teacher advisor for a Spanish club and a student-led Christian club. I submit announcements to the office for both clubs. The Spanish club announcements are always shared. However, the Christian club announcements are not. Is this legal?
No, this is a form of religious discrimination and violates the Equal Access Act passed in 1984. All student clubs must be treated in the same manner. Clubs of a religious nature must be given the same access (including announcements) as non-religious clubs.
I suggest you let the administration know they are violating federal law in an effort to protect the district. If they do not heed your warning, I’d suggest you have one of the student leaders contact us. We can connect the student with pro bono legal representation to help facilitate effective communication with the district. 

I have been working in an elementary classroom this year. The classroom teacher has taken some occasions to talk about world religions, specifically and limited to Islam and Judaism. Christianity is not being represented. Any suggestions on how I might approach the classroom teacher about this issue?
I suggest you approach the issue from the standpoint of equal treatment of the major world religions. Find out what your school board policy as well as the state standards say regarding the teaching of religion in general. You can suggest that if the teachings of the other religions are explored, then the teachings of Christianity should also be explored to avoid giving the impression that Christianity is being excluded.

I teach in a public school, and one of my students was excited to invite me to her baptism at the church where we both attend. Can I legally attend?
You are fully within your rights to attend this and similar public religious functions off-campus to which a student invites you.
When attending your church, you are not functioning in your role as a teacher. Therefore, there are no limitations on your religious freedoms. The limitations placed on you as a government employee while in your teacher role do not exist outside of that role.

What is the law regarding teachers meeting in the school to pray and have a Bible study? 
Teachers can meet before school, during off-duty time during the school day, or after school in a location out of the view of students to study the Bible or pray. 
Liberty Counsel’s Teachers’ Rights in Public Schools memo sets forth in further detail the extent of teachers’ rights on public school campuses. 

What guidelines can you give an educator about driving a student to a school-related competition that occurs outside of school hours?
The school district or the students’ parents/guardians are responsible for providing transportation.
Educators should never transport a student unless they have a bus driver’s license and are using a school vehicle. Should you be in an accident without these stipulations, responsibility would fall on you personally. Any claim made would be made on your private auto insurance. Since transporting students is beyond your job description, the district would not be able to support you.
Also, being alone in a car with a student is not wise. If allegations of inappropriate conduct are made against you, it could end your career, regardless of your innocence. I recommend that you do not put yourself in such a position.

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


Like what you’re reading? Then don’t miss an issue. Subscribe to be notified when the next issue is published.

Next Story

In Each Issue

CEAI Protects Its Members

Membership Benefits