Arkansas School Stops Teacher From Proselytizing

After receiving complaints from parents, officials at an Arkansas public school have ordered a teacher to stop praying over her class and handing out Bible passages.

Jan Redden, a teacher at Central Middle School in Van Buren, prayed “for the Devil to be bound up and not to enter [students’] brains” before students took a mandated exam. Redden also posted Bible verses on her classroom wall and handed out individualized scriptures to students.

Van Buren School Superintendent Merle Dickerson said the district follows the U.S. Department of Education’s rules regarding religion in public schools.

“A student or teacher doesn’t give up their constitutional right when they walk in the door,” Dickerson said. “In my mind, that’s never an issue. The issue is an individual acting in his official capacity in the organization, and it becomes an issue in how it is perceived at the moment. So how you clarify that is to be conservative and to be safe.”

Dickerson continued, “We aren’t asking anyone to leave their faith on the steps as they come in. We do ask them to use good judgment and to consult guidance from the U.S. Department of Education.”