It was enough to shake anybody’s faith in the system.
But a Florida boy and his father are fighting back after the fifth-grader said his teacher banned him from reading his Bible during free-reading time in school, violating his constitutional rights.
The Broward County School District says it’s all “a big misunderstanding,” but that’s not what the evidence shows. Giovanni Rubeo and his dad have turned to Liberty Institute, “the largest legal organization dedicated solely to defending and restoring religious liberty in America,” to get things straightened out.
Here is a summary of the facts from Liberty Institute:
- On April 8, 2014, a teacher at Park Lakes Elementary School in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, sternly ordered a 5th-grader — Giovanni Rubeo — to stop reading his beloved Bible during free reading time. She told him, “Put it on my desk!”
- The teacher then left a voicemail for Giovanni’s father, telling him that “those books” (meaning books like the Bible) were not allowed in “her classroom.” Listen to actual audio of the teacher’s voicemail here.
- When Giovanni’s dad, Paul Rubeo, protested his son’s treatment, the school officials sent him a two-sentence reply dodging the key issue of whether students could read religious material during free time.
- Giovanni’s father retained Liberty Institute to represent himself and his son.
- On May 5, 2014, Liberty Institute sent a letter to the Broward County schools on behalf of Paul Rubeo, and his son Giovanni. Our letter demands a written apology within 10 days, and restoration of the rights of children in the Broward School District.
This is a transcript of the voicemail from the teacher :
“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 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.”
The case has caused national outrage and press coverage is only just beginning for the school officials that violated federal and state law, according to Liberty.
Hear from the boy and his father in this CBS Miami news report:
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