Suing Over the Mandatory Moment of Silence October 27, 2007

Suing Over the Mandatory Moment of Silence

Illinois has a law mandating a moment of silence in public classrooms.

A familiar name is now suing over it. And she’s only 14.

Dawn Sherman on Friday filed a lawsuit against Northwest Suburban Township High School District 214 to fight the state-mandated moment of silence.

The district is planning to implement the law on Tuesday during morning announcements. The suit is believed to be the first seeking to overturn the new law.

Sherman’s father, Rob, said they will be seeking an injunction Monday to prevent that from happening. The lawsuit was filed through Rob — an atheist activist — since Dawn is a minor.

He said the law violates the separation of church and state because it requires a moment of reflection on a daily basis.

“People shouldn’t be stopping my education for prayer that they could be doing any time in the 18 hours they have the rest of the day,” Dawn said.

Although the law doesn’t require children to pray, Sherman said the name — Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act — indicates that intent.

It’s interesting to see who gets named in the lawsuit:

Besides naming District 214 board members and Superintendent David Schuler, the lawsuit filed in federal court also names Patrice Johannes, principal at Buffalo Grove High School, which Dawn attends, Dawn’s third-period teacher, Binh Huynh — who would oversee the moment of silence — and Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Blagojevich vetoed the bill but was overridden by the state House and Senate. Sherman said the governor is cited because he is responsible for enforcing state law.

The teacher? That could’ve been me!

The principal? What did she do?

The school district? They’re just following orders.

The district agrees:

Some school administrators have complained the law is too ill-defined and puts many teachers and some students in an awkward position.

The Shermans may have legitimate concerns, but they are suing the wrong party when they target the school district, said Brian McCarthy, an attorney for the district.

“The General Assembly — for better, worse, foolish or wise — passed this law and it’s not up to school districts to pick and choose which laws they follow,” McCarthy said. “He needs to go after the entity that enforces that law.”

It seems pointless to go after anyone besides the lawmakers themselves. The others have nothing to do with the law getting passed.

[tags]atheist, atheism, Rob Sherman[/tags]

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  • Although the law doesn’t require children to pray, Sherman said the name — Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act — indicates that intent..

    Yep, when the name of the act references religion there is really no doubt what the intent is. Schools don’t need to facilitate prayer. If it is really that important, those kids who can’t make it through the day without a morning prayer can get to school a minute earlier and pray before school starts. My guess is that very few will be willing to make the minute sacrifice.

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