In Jefferson County, Tennessee, the local public school district decided in 2003 to close its Alternative School — the school for kids who get expelled or in some other kind of trouble — and farm out the education of those students to Kingswood School, Inc., a Christian school. A federal judge has now ruled that this is a violation of the Establishment Clause.
Even after Kingswood took over the alternative school services for all of JeffersonCounty, Kingswood continued to refer to itself as a “Christian environment” in some of its documents.
The Kingswood Easter 2006 letter quotes Luke 18:16 and displays crosses at the top of the page,with the words, “Kingswood School is unique because we offer children a Christian environment….Kingswood remains one of the few places where children in need come get help in a Christian environment.We are a non-profit faith based ministry…” 25.
Kingswood’s website indicates “Kingswood has survived independently by remaining true in faith to the principals of a Christian education without being bound to the doctrine of a particular denomination or sect’s control.”…Kingswood implemented a Family Feedback Policy, which required students to submit a Family Feedback form every week.
Failure to complete and return a weekly Family Feedback form would prevent a student from advancing at Kingswood.
Kingswood’s weekly Family Feedback form contained biblical scripture and was required to be signed by the parents of all of Kingswood students.
Kingswood’s Report Cards for Jefferson County Alternative School students contained biblical scripture quoting the Gospel of Luke 18:16 and were required to be signed by each parent…
In this case, a “reasonable observer” would see the Board’s decision to contract with a self-proclaimed “religious institution,” conveys a message of religious endorsement, running afoul of the Establishment Clause.
Now we need to get rid of all those released-time programs that the courts have allowed for far too long. You can read the full ruling here.