A “show-and-tell” assignment about Christmas stirs up controversy in Temecula when a student claims her teacher did not allow her to finish her presentation because of its Biblical references. Tony Shin reports from Temecula for the NBC4 News Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014.
A week after advocates for religious freedom said a teacher refused to let a allow a student to bring candy canes with a religious message to his school, a second Southern California school is under fire for refusing to allow a first grader to share her family’s Christmas tradition because “she's not allowed to talk about the Bible in school," a lawyer for the girl's family said.
First grader Brynn Williams wanted to present her family's Christmas tradition of a star of Bethlehem at her school in the Temecula Valley Unified School District in Riverside County on Dec. 19 but was told she could not present it, according to lawyers for the Advocates for Faith & Freedom, which works to preserve religious liberty in the legal system.
"The disapproval and hostility that Christian students have come to experience in our nation's public schools has become epidemic,” Robert Tyler, the general counsel for Advocates for Faith & Freedom said. ”I hope that (the school district ) will take the lead role in adopting a model policy to prohibit this abuse that has become all too common place for religious-minded students."
"The Temecula Valley Unified School District respects all students' rights under the Constitution and takes very seriously any allegation of discrimination. Due to the fact that District officials are currently investigating the allegations, it would be inappropriate to provide further comment at this time," the district said in a statement.
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Brynn's father, Shane, said he didn't think his daughter bringing the star to school "would be an issue of any kind."
"When this took place she was hurt," he said. "She felt that she had done something wrong and she was going to be punished."
Brynn's case comes on the heels of a case involving a first grader at a school in the West Covina Unified School District who was told, "Jesus is not allowed in school” when he brought a candy cane to school with a religious message.
The school assignment was for each student to bring to class something that represents a family Christmas tradition and do a 1-minute presentation on it.
Instead, Taylor said, Brynn's teacher interrupted her when she was going to recite a Bible verse and told her to, ”Go take your seat!"
She was the only student who was not allowed to finish her presentation, Taylor said.