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California school asked to issue apology to special-ed student

An elementary school in Carlsbad is under scrutiny from the surrounding community this month because of accusations that the school violated the First Amendment rights of a special needs student who simply wanted to read the Bible during his reading time in class.

The dispute, as some of our Santa Cruz readers may have already heard, arose when the student's grandparents asked if their grandson, a boy with Down Syndrome, could read his Bible during reading time. According to the boy's grandparents, he was denied this right, which has prompted a request for an apology from the school district as well as training of staff on students' rights in school.

But according to the school, teachers did not deny the student his right to bring the book to school nor did they deny him the right to read it during his reading time. The school claims instead that the boy's grandparents asked that the book be used as a teaching tool for the boy. This was the request, the district says, it had to deny because the text did not meet the specific educational goals outlined in the boy's individualized education plan.

If the boy's grandparents feel that the school violated the boy's rights and do not receive the apology they are requesting, then it's possible that they could take civil action against the school and its district. The matter would then be up to the courts to decide, possibly resulting in compensation in the event that a violation of the law did occur.

Source: NBC Los Angeles, "Apology, Training Demanded After Bible in Class Controversy," Dave Summers et al, Dec. 10, 2014

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