AZLE (CBSDFW.COM) – Parents in Azle are outraged after the local school district’s decision to postpone an assembly.
Azle ISD administrators say the school district’s attorney advised them to cancel Wednedsay’s presentation, due in part to the speaking group’s connection to a Christian ministry.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to the district headquarters Tuesday afternoon, expressing concerns that the presentation by motivational speakers “Seven At Schools” could have religious undertones.
The district sent home permission slips for parents who preferred to opt out of the assembly. Assistant Superintendent Tanya Anderson says her understanding was the message from “Seven At Schools” would focus on issues like bullying, academics, drugs, and character building.
“This assembly was a positive message and this was a very difficult decision on our part to postpone it,” said Anderson.
Staff attorney Sam Grover with the Freedom From Religion Foundation says one Azle parent contacted the organization with concerns about the legality of the group speaking in the schools.
According to Grover, the parent was concerned after hearing the personal stories that the speakers would share, would include religious themes.
“Which is a problem, because Azle is a public school district. So any religious message that is promoted to students is a violation of the separation of church and state,” said Grover.
Grover says the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s purpose is to protect that constitutional separation. The national organization has filed complaints against public institutions around the United States.
Many Azle parents disagree with the school district’s decision to postpone the presentation.
“You’re letting a very small group of people – from what I hear, just one person – dictate what should or should not be taught to our kids,” said Anita Lamaster.
Karen Emerson feels like her daughter’s choice to participate in the assembly was taken away.
“I understand that it’s a choice. What about our choice, though, as a parent wanting our children to go to the assembly so they can learn about this stuff, like bullying?” Emerson said.
Many of those Azle families gathered at The Church At Azle Wednesday night, to hear the speakers from “Seven At Schools”, this time called “The Seven Project”, with a message anchored in Christian faith for the church community.
“The Seven Project” knows the boundaries they can’t cross, and that they have to keep it to a certain standard [in public schools]. We were all aware of that,” said Co-pastor Chad Geeslin.
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