Officials at Broward County Public Schools banned a fifth grader from reading the Bible during “free reading” time, according to lawyers from the Liberty Institute who are threatening to sue the school for violating the First Amendment.
Giovanni Rubeo is a fifth-grade student at the school, who had been given a Bible at church as a Christmas gift. It’s his favorite book, so he decided he’d like to read it during the time in class where students are allowed to read anything they choose.
Swornia Thomas is Giovanni’s teacher. On April 8, Thomas told Giovanni he’s not allowed to read the Bible in her class and ordered him to put it away. Giovanni asked her to call his father, Paul Rubeo, about the incident.
Thomas did so, leaving a voicemail that included, “I noticed that he [Giovanni] has a book—a religious book—in the classroom. He’s not permitted to read those books in my classroom.” Rubeo then contacted the school’s principal, Orinthia Dias, who brought in the school’s legal department. None of them are willing to acknowledge that Giovanni has a constitutional right to read the Bible.
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