Encinitas school Bible reading controversy

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – An issue in a North County School has put the spotlight on the separation of church and state, and it has to do with a child bringing a Bible into class.

Parents say teachers in the Encinitas Union School District had a knee jerk reaction when they told them their son could not bring a Bible into class.

The superintendent says it was a miss-communication, and that this is not an issue.

At the center of the controversy is The Beginners Bible, and at issue is whether a ten year old boy with Down Syndrome can read his favorite book during his 30 minute free reading period at La Costa Heights Elementary School.

Grandparents and guardians Craig and Lori Nordahl say they were told no at a meeting with Noah’s teachers last week.

“He doesn’t put it down. He’s worn out four of these in five years. If it weren’t for his bible he wouldn’t be reading well,” said Craig Nordahl.

The Nordahl’s brought their concerns to Lawyer Dean Broyles, who demanded a written apology form the district, and an agreement to allow students to read religious books, including The Bible, during free reading times.

“We want everyone to know what the first amendment says about bringing a book to school, including religious text. Our desire is that the district, not only Encinitas, but other districts follow the law and honor civil rights,” Dean Broyles.

Broyles said he received a response from the district saying Noah could read his Bible during free choice reading.

Superintendent, Dr. Tim Baird said the family initially asked for The Bible to be part of the boy’s instruction, and that his needs required a different curriculum.

Dr. Baird said the district employees followed the law.

“The very next day after that email went out, the child brought it to school, read it, no one stopped him, no one said no. I’m still flabbergasted this is an issue. We agree he can read anything during free time reading,” said Dr. Baird.

“We’d like to see the district apologize, and they need to train their personnel administrators, and what is not acceptable. An in service would be a great way to resolve this for the district,” said Craig.

Dr. William Mobley with the Down Syndrome Center at UCSD said the Noah may feel reassured in reading that material, and makes him feel safe and secure.

He added that kids with Down Syndrome develop routines, make lists and follow them. He also said that the district should work with the parents to get around this roadblock.

It appears, that is already happening.

Categories: KUSI