Maryland Family Sues Government School Over Religious Class Assignments

Published February 23, 2016

A Maryland family is suing its local government school district after its daughter was allegedly disciplined for refusing to complete a school assignment that required the participants to recite an Islamic profession of faith.

The assignment was part of a history class lesson on Middle Eastern culture.

The plaintiffs, John Kevin Wood and Melissa Wood, claim completing the school assignments would have deprived their daughter of her constitutional rights and subjected her to deliberate religious indoctrination.

Andrew Kloster, a legal fellow for The Heritage Foundation, says political correctness run amok in the government school system is a symptom of a larger cultural problem.

“The worst part of this is most of the time the schools aren’t voluntarily trying to do it; the culture in the schools is so permeated and bad that things like this are just a matter of course,” Kloster said.  

‘Parents Need to Pay Attention’

Kloster says giving parents more power over their children’s education and getting parents more involved in the educational process would help stop the absurdities in academia.

“To prevent these sorts of things from happening in the future, the parents need to pay attention and shine light on them when they do pop up, by writing letters to the editor [to local newspapers],” Kloster said. “They need to get on school boards or vote with their pocketbook and feet. And, when push comes to shove, they need to bring lawsuits against the schools, and sue them if necessary.”

You Can’t Please Everyone

Joy Pullmann, a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute, which publishes School Reform News, says breaking the government monopoly on education is the cure for what ails the system.

“The root of crazy incidents like this is families have very limited school choice,” Pullmann said. “Maryland is especially coercive on this front, because they have no private school choice program, unlike the majority of states.

“[This] relieves public schools from having to attempt the impossible, which is to be all things to all people, which is just setting them up for conflict,” Pullmann said. “World religions teach mutually exclusive things. There is simply no way a school can teach religion at all without indoctrinating someone. Therefore, they should stay away from attempting to do so, and legislatures should relieve both public schools and families of this impossible burden by creating school choice programs.

“As I think is pretty clear at this point, parents should advocate for their constitutionally guaranteed right to exercise their religion as they see fit [and] for the freedom to use their child’s education tax dollars at schools that fit with their deepest beliefs about the transcendent truths of life,” Pullmann said.

Kenneth Artz ([email protected]) writes from Dallas, Texas.