Public School Teacher Orders Students to Pray to Jesus… and Keeps Her Job

If a public school teacher used class time to have her students pray to God and recite the Lord’s Prayer, what should be the punishment?

What if the teacher also put her priest on speakerphone so he could listen in?

And what if the teacher also had her kids re-enact scenes from Jesus’ life?

Public schools aren’t arms of your church.

Because that’s what Michelle Schindelheim of Bronx Middle School 301 did last year. She teaches English as a Second Language and was investigated in March of 2011 after students complained she was forcing them to pray instead of teaching them how to read. She confessed to everything:

She told [investigators] the whole thing was a “stupid idea” suggested by a friend who was teaching a meditation class.

Schindelheim said she “did not know what came into her head that day” and that she was under “a lot of personal stress” at the time.

She said she normally wouldn’t teach that way and “she knew that such a curriculum was not acceptable in a public school.”

Shortly after the incident, she took a medical leave.

It’s possible she had a mental breakdown. If she admits that, which it sounds like she did, maybe she deserves a second chance. I’m reluctant to suggest that, though, since another person complained about her pushing Jesus onto her students only months prior to this incident. So it’s not isolated.

What was her punishment? A “letter in her disciplinary file” and a verbal scolding of her principal. Hardly damning. She gets to keep her job, too. (Commenters at WorldNetDaily are thrilled.)

Here’s my question: If she were promoting Islam or atheism or damn-near-anything-except-Christianity, would her punishment have been this light?

(image via Shutterstock)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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