ERIC Number: EJ1020063
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Mar
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 21
The Wall between Church and State Begins to Crumble: One Small Community's Struggle with Sectarian Influence in the Public School
Geier, Brett A.
Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership, v17 n1 p45-58 Mar 2014
A small community in southwest Michigan has been witness to a significant cultural divide within its school system. An influential church has permeated school leadership and in many cases has overstepped the proverbial "wall separating church and state." A fairly high-profile case saw the Sixth Circuit Court enjoin the district to remove a portrait of Jesus. Community members were divided on this issue, which led to mistrust between the two factions. The culture that was established caused a certain sectarian group to intensify their mission of disseminating their church doctrine throughout the community with the school as a vehicle for that message. The secular constituents were highly suspicious that their First Amendment rights were being infringed upon by the activities of secularists inside and outside the school. A contingent of school employees fostered the church's mission with several members ignoring the wall of separation. The high school principal energized the debate when he elected to use the halftime of a sporting event to recognize the resigning athletic director by quoting scripture. Many were aghast that he would be so bold as to speak in such a manner, whereas others were euphoric that religion was infused in the public school. This case provides a practical examination of First Amendment practices in the public school and the opportunity to assess decision making through various organizational and ethical lenses.
Descriptors: Public Schools, State Church Separation, Culture Conflict, School Community Relationship, School Law, Ethics, Organizational Theories, Trust (Psychology), Community Relations, High Schools, Leadership Role, Controversial Issues (Course Content), Instructional Design, Civil Rights, Freedom of Speech, Educational Policy, Questioning Techniques
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Michigan
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: First Amendment