FORT WAYNE, Ind. (CN) – Fort Wayne public schools let Christian churches bring a trailer onto campuses and give students “religious release time” instead of attending “their regular class schedule,” and does it without parents’ permission, parents say in a federal complaint.
Fort Wayne Community Schools lets the Associated Churches of Fort Wayne and Allen County use public school property and time to run “a religious release time program, entitled Weekday Religious Education, for students in the third, fourth and fifth grades,” according to the complaint.
The churches call it “a Christian program that works in cooperation with area public schools systems that allow third, fourth, and fifth grade students to take time out of their regular class schedule to participate in religious education.”
The plaintiffs, D.S. and A.S., say their child was sent to the religious education program “for a number of weeks … without their knowledge or consent.”
When they found out, they objected.
The parents say they “object to religious instruction occurring on school property during the school day.” They do not want public taxes to support religious education at public schools, and “They do not wish their daughter, C.S., to be exposed to this.”
They add that the program “violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.”
The parents seek declaratory judgment and an injunction preventing the schools from operating the Religious Education Program on public school property.
They are represented by Kenneth Falk with the Indiana ACLU of Indianapolis.