In Each Issue

Q & A

CEAI Members ask… 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 para-educator with a desire to mentor and support girls from the public school where I work. I am thinking of hosting a Bible study at my home, but I’m not sure if I can legally do this. How do I go about starting a Bible study group with my female students? Where should I host it, and how should I invite my students?
Precedent is very clear that educators need to keep their ministry separate from their work relationship with their students, so CEAI suggests that you get the sponsorship of a local ministry, like your church. 
The sponsoring ministry could arrange the Bible study at your school or another location like a church or community building. We do not recommend that you host a Bible study with your students in your home. It may give the impression that you are using your work relationship with your students to lure them to your home. Also, we advise that at least two adults always be present wherever your group meets for your protection from false accusations. 
The sponsoring ministry can also invite your female students to attend. Often schools allow community events and activities to be advertised through school memos and announcements. Then, when you are not working (a timeframe outside of your contracted work schedule), you can be a part of the ministry by mentoring and supporting your female students in the role of a community member rather than their teacher. 

I am a member of CEAI but not my local teacher's union. If I need to file a grievance against my district, should I expect the local union to help me?
Technically, your local union represents both members and non-members, but often local unions go out of their way to withhold support from non-members. 
Don’t despair, since you are a CEAI member with coverage, we can assist you if a grievance needs to be filed. Simply email so that we can assist you in the process. After all, we are here to serve and support Christian educators.

What will happen if I resign from my teaching position during the school year, breaking my contract?
We do not recommend that our members resign before contacting CEAI to discuss their options with an educational consultant. 
Resignation rarely benefits the employee. Once you resign, you lose all your rights to fight disciplinary action by your district and disqualify yourself from unemployment. Resignations can also negatively impact being considered for future positions in other school districts.
If you resign during your contract (after the established resignation cut-off date), you are essentially breaking your contract. Your district does not have to accept your resignation. If they deny your resignation and you leave anyway, the district can report the breach of contract to your State Department of Education who has the power to revoke your teaching credentials.

I have hung a cross in my classroom. Both my principal and superintendent have seen it and haven’t said anything about it yet. But if an administrator does tell me to take down my cross in the future, does the law say that I must remove it?
Displaying religious symbols in a classroom is legal. Even so, we recommend that our members take precautions to diminish the likelihood of receiving complaints about displaying items such as your cross. For example, you can display multiple non-religious wall hangings around your room along with a religious decoration like a cross.
However, if ordered by your administrators to take your cross down, CEAI suggests that you do so. The courts have consistently ruled that administrators have authority over classroom posters/decorations or ornamentation. You most likely wouldn’t be fired for displaying a cross, but you definitely could be terminated for insubordination (defying a direct order from a superior). 
From a biblical perspective, we recommend that you submit to your authority unless ordered to violate your religious convictions. Since your words, actions, and attitude in school most likely already reflect the message and purpose of the cross, removing an item from your classroom wall out of obedience to authority won’t really damage your witness in the classroom.

How do I as a Christian educator work closely with a known atheist who dislikes Christians?
As Christians working in public schools, we most likely will all work with people ascribing to different belief systems, many of which traditionally despise Christians. Jesus was hated because of what He represented, and He told His followers that we should be prepared to be treated as He was treated (John 15:20). 
While working with someone who dislikes you is very challenging for many reasons, perhaps you can see it as a God-ordained opportunity to live out the gospel message to someone who desperately needs to experience God’s grace and love. You, like many Christian educators across the world, can choose to walk out the command to bless those who curse you, to pray for those who harm you (Luke 6:28), and to love your enemies (Matthew 5:44). 
It might help to remember that prejudiced, hostile coworkers are still created in His image, and we can practice treating them that way regardless of how they act. Plus, we are not called to judge, but to love as Jesus’ ambassadors.
Loving those who dislike us is a legal and very powerful form of evangelism.

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 To submit questions regarding educational issues to our experienced educators, visit Ask an Educator on our website.


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