An uproar has been brewing for weeks over at the Orange Juice blog’s long-running SAUSD thread, regarding Willard Principal Dennis Cole, who has apparently been injecting religion into his school.
I am a Christian, but I can understand how religious activities in our public schools could backfire. I don’t know Mr. Cole, but it sounds like he is definitely pushing the envelope.
Here is an excerpt from one comment, regarding teacher-led student prayer groups:
SAUSD continues to allow teacher led student prayer groups held during the students’ lunch period. Willard Intermediate School in Santa Ana, CA has formed a teacher led student prayer club held during the students’ lunch time. The group is named “Jaguars for Jesus.”
The principal of the school, Dennis Cole, initially approached teachers and counselors to find teachers willing to lead the prayer groups.
The teachers’ union met with Superintendent, Jane Russo. Both Russo and SAEA agreed that Principal Cole is not allowed to request any staff member to lead such a group nor is he allowed to ask other staff members to recruit for him. This, of course, was after the teachers had already been recruited.
Superintendent Jane Russo and SAEA did agree that a teacher’s lunchtime is not considered duty time. This, according to SAEA and Ms. Russo, allows teachers to participate in teacher led prayer groups for students. Therefore, the view of both SAEA and Ms. Russo is that this issue has been “resolved”.
An additional issue has surfaced. The First Presbyterian Church, located on 600 N. Main St. in Santa Ana, regularly sends individuals from that organization to attend these “club” meetings (“Outsiders, such as clergy members, may not initiate club meetings. Outsiders may not direct, conduct, control or regularly attend activities of student groups.”).
These individuals do not sign-in as other visitors are required to do nor is it clear that they have gone through the background checks and finger printing required by SAUSD for all school volunteers.
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