Student suspended for wearing religious necklace

by Azreel | August 30th, 2002

Betwixt and Between, a Dallas area Pagan Community Center is reporting on the situation of a young woman in Waxahachie who was suspended from her high school for wearing a pentacle to classes.
Can schools discriminate on religion? Can they allow one student to wear a cross, and prevent another from wearing a pentacle? Or a Star of David? Doesn’t this seem to violate some law about church and state?
Read on for details from Betwixt and Between.
Updated 8/31/02

Rebecca Moreno, age 15, a freshman at Waxahachie High school, in Waxahachie, Texas, was suspended from school this week for refusing to remove her pentacle that is banned by the school district dress code.

Laura, her mother, contacted Bryan Lankford, Interfaith Director for Betwixt & Between Community Center and Covenant of the Goddess in Texas in regards to this situation.

Bryan spoke with Ms. Moreno and then contacted our local ACLU representative Rick Lannoye.

Mr. Lannoye also made contact with Ms. Laura Moreno when the school officially suspended Rebecca August 26th, 2002.

When the school refused to let Rebecca return to school unless she removed her pentacle, Laura let the media, chamber of commerce in Waxahachie, and even the Mayor know what was going on.

From our experience with the Dallas Independent School Districts Religious Task force we have a publication issued by the First Amendment Center, “Finding Common Ground, A First Amendment Guide to Religion and Public Education.” Written by Charles C. Haynes, Ph.D., Oliver Thomas, Esp., Legal Editor, which defines the guidelines.

In 1995, the Department of Education and the Justice Department drafted and sent a directive to Secretary of Education called Guidelines on Religious Expression in Public Schools.

The section of Religious Expression in Public Schools reads as such:

http://www.ed.gov/pubs/commonground/sld012.htm

Student Garb

Schools enjoy substantial discretion in adopting policies relating to student dress and school uniforms. Students generally have no Federal right to be exempted from religiously neutral and generally applicable school dress rules based on their religious beliefs or practices; however, schools may not single out religious attire in general, or attire of a particular religion, for prohibition of regulation. Students may display religious messages on items of clothing to the same extent that they are permitted other comparative messages. Religious messages may not be singled out for suppression, but rather are subject to the same rules as generally apply to comparable messages.

In our conversation with Ms.Moreno this morning she shares that Rebecca has no intention of backing down in this matter.

We encourage you to show your positive support in this matter by contacting the Waxahachie School District at following addresses and phone number.

Waxahachie ISD
411 North Gibson Street
Waxahachie, Texas 75165
Fax 972 923 4795

School Administration Building
(972)923-4631

In Dallas television stations have covered the story on Fox4 and NBC.

We await further developments as Laura files an official grievance with the Waxahachie School district concerning the matter of Rebecca’s suspension.

You can view at the footage from NBC covering the story and there vote in their on line survey as well at:

http://www.nbc5i.com/news/1639193/detail.html

For general community information, complaints of discrimination in school districts such as this may be filed with the Justice Department at the following web address:

http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/edo

We will send updates as the Laura’s story unfolds.

Together we can do everything,

Maeven Eller Betwixt & Between Community Center

www.betwixt.org Dallas, Texas

UPDATE

We have been very pleasantly surprised by all the help the Civil Rights division of the Justice Department have given us over the last few days in regards to this matter. They have a special division that deals specifically with education.

Yesterday afternoon based on the information provided the DoJ in Washington, our representative called to give us several cases that set precedence in this area, and asked that we have Ms. Moreno file and official complaint with the Department of Justice.

Rebecca’s mother is filing that complaint this morning.

Both Rebecca and Laura are in good spirits despite all that is going on, and send their thanks for your support.

This website just in from Freebecca@aol.com

http://hometown.aol.com/freebecca/myhomepage/index.html

Below are a list of helpful links about rights and cases that have gone on before this one.

http://www.journey1.org/freedom/lincolnpark.htm

http://www.witchvox.com/white/wschools.html

http://www.conjure.com/ERAL/eral.html

The results from the NBC Poll yesterday asking our it’s viewers opinion, `Do you think students should be allowed to wear a pentacle or pentagram to school?’

Of the 1728 people voting, 1338 said yes, 390 saying no.

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