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Lawsuit filed after Idaho commission bans all religious texts from curriculum

ADF attorneys sue on behalf of Nampa Classical Academy after Idaho Public Charter School Commission threatens to revoke its charter
Published On: 10/18/2017

BOISE, Idaho — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Idaho Public Charter School Commission on behalf of Nampa Classical Academy, which was threatened with the revocation of its charter if it utilizes the Bible or any other religious documents or text as part of its curriculum resources. Despite the fact that numerous public schools throughout the state and country constitutionally allow the objective study of the Bible as an educational resource, the commission will immediately proceed to revoke its charter if the school does not remove the religious text from its curriculum.

“The Bible shouldn’t be singled out for censorship in public schools, especially since the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held that it is entirely constitutional for it to be studied objectively as an educational resource,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman. “The commission is basing its determination to revoke the charter on its mistaken interpretation of the state constitution’s establishment clause. The authors of the Idaho Constitution clearly understood that history cannot be adequately taught without reference to significant religious texts. The commission’s interpretation is quite obviously not what constitution’s authors intended.”

The Idaho Public Charter School Commission told Nampa Classical Academy, which plans to open its public charter school with more than 500 students this year, that it will not be able to include the Bible as any part of its curriculum--or its charter will be revoked. Even though the academy, which has been in the process of developing the academy for the last six years, received approval from the State Board of Education last year and has received positive responses from the commission at each stage of its development, the commission is now determined to completely exclude the Bible from any use in the charter school as well as all other public schools within the state.

On Aug. 13, ADF attorneys filed a legal memorandum with the commission on behalf of Nampa Classical Academy, stating, “The Commission’s proposal to deny Nampa Classical Academy’s right to use the Bible in its curriculum cannot pass muster under either the Constitution of Idaho or the United States Constitution.” Later that week, the commission voted to prohibit the academy from using any “religious documents and text” in its curriculum or in its classroom, even if it is used objectively as a curriculum resource.

“Nampa Classical Academy is endeavoring to exercise its right to provide the best possible education for its students and has decided to include the Bible, along with dozens of other religious and secular writings, as resources in its curriculum to enrich instruction of literature, history, and culture, among other topics,” Cortman explained. “Schools have been doing this throughout American history.”

Attorney Bruce Skaug of Nampa is serving as local counsel in the lawsuit, Nampa Classical Academy v. Goesling, filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family. 

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