A public school in California ordered a 7-year-old boy to stop handing out Bible verses during lunch – and they dispatched a deputy sheriff to the child’s home to enforce the directive.
“This is a clear, gross violation of the rights of a child,” said Horatio Mihet, a Liberty Counsel attorney representing the first-grader who attends Desert Rose Elementary School in Palmdale. They are also representing his parents, Christina and Jaime Zavala.
Mrs. Zavala made it a practice of including a Bible verse and encouraging note in her son’s lunch bag. The boy would tell his friends about the note and read them aloud at the lunch table.
It wasn’t long before children asked for copies of the notes and Mrs. Zavala obliged – including a brief note to explain the daily Bible verse.
On April 18 a teacher called Mrs. Zavala and said her son would no longer be able to share the Bible verses because he was “not allowed to share such things while at school.”
Liberty Counsel said the school would only allow the child to distribute the Bible verses outside the school gate – after the bell rang.
They say the teacher told Mrs. Zavala that her son “could no longer read or share Bible verses or stories at lunch” – citing “separation of church and state.”
So, Mr. and Mrs. Zavala complied with the school’s clearly unconstitutional edict.
But on May 9, the school’s principal decided to implement a complete ban on the Bible verse sharing.
Liberty Counsel alleges the boy was ordered to stop handing out notes because “it was against school policy.” The principal told the boy and his father to move to a public sidewalk. They complied with the principal’s demand.
It would be just a few hours later – when the Zavala family heard a knock at their front door.
“The deputy sheriff said he had been sent by the school,” Liberty Counsel attorney Richard Mast told me. “The deputy went on to tell the parents that the school was worried that someone might be offended by the Bible verses.”
Liberty Counsel said the deputy sheriff was not belligerent or threatening. The family was not served with any sort of legal documents. It appeared to be a “friendly” warning.
“It was outrageous and should shock the conscious of every freedom-loving American,” Mihet told me. “Apparently all the real criminals have been dealt with in Palmdale – and now they’re going after kids who share Bible verses during lunch time.”
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