A school system a couple hours from where I live is searching for a new superintendent and they wanted to make clear that they were only looking for someone with a “a strong Christian background and philosophy.” The ACLU informed them that this would be blatantly illegal discrimination.
McBain Rural Agricultural Schools’ search for a new superintendent who has “a strong Christian background and philosophy” is under scrutiny from the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan.
State ACLU leaders wrote a letter to the district on Tuesday, March 3, urging the district remove any reference to religion, saying the requirement violates multiple federal and state laws against discrimination
“There is no principle more fundamental to American public education than the requirement that schools be welcoming of all students, employees and administrators regardless of religious or ethnic background,” Dan Korobkin, ACLU of Michigan deputy legal director wrote. “Our Constitution wisely requires public schools to remain neutral in matters of religion. When a school favors one religion over another, or religion over non-religion, students and teachers who do not subscribe to the favored religion are made to feel like they do not belong.”
The search firm the school hired to find the new superintendent quickly backed off and changed the job description, but not without lying about it:
A consultant helping a rural Northern Michigan school district with its superintendent search apologized for suggesting that candidates have “a strong Christian background and philosophy” and has removed the criteria from the job description.
Scott Crosby, the regional president of the Michigan Leadership Institute for West Central Michigan, responded to the American Civil Liberties Union’s request to remove any reference to religion from a McBain Rural Agricultural Schools’ job posting.
Crosby admitted that the wording was “poor judgment” on his part, not the school board. The religious reference was not meant to discriminate, but was intended to reflect the area’s “close-knit and conservative” beliefs, he said…
Crosby said the school district is a “welcoming, inclusive environment where all backgrounds are respected.” Crosby spent 33 years in education, including 11 years as superintendent in two districts before retiring.
“There was clearly no intent to favor one religion over another, or religion over non-religion, and students and teachers are made to feel like they all belong vs. made to feel like ‘they do not belong’ in McBain from my personal experience,” he wrote in an email to the ACLU. “As the person responsible for this posting, I apologize to your organization and to any individual who feels that our language was discriminatory in any way. There was no mention of preference, favoritism, or this being a requirement in reviewing this document.”
Of course there was. If you say you’re looking for a Christian for the job, there is a clear intent to favor one religion over another by definition. Apparently they’re being represented by Humpty Dumpty and words mean whatever they want them to mean at any given moment, neither more nor less.