Monday, May 30, 2005

Student teacher files suit against Southeastern Louisiana University

A couple of weeks ago, I reported that one of the crazy right-wing teachers in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana attempted to run out a student teacher who complained that the teacher was violating the Constitution by leading the students in prayers. To say that she succeeded would be to excel in understatement.

Cynthia Thompson, a student at D.C. Reeves Elementary School in Ponchatoula, was uncomfortable when teacher Pamela Sullivan, who conducted Bible studies in the cafeteria, allegedly ordered that prayers be said in class. When Thompson mentioned that the activities were unconstitutional, the teacher ordered her to select a student to lead the prayers. Thompson selected a Lebanese student, who was clearly not at ease saying a Christian prayer.

According to Thompson, she then complained to her advisor at Southeastern Louisiana University, who responded by holding Thompson's hand and praying for guidance.

Please note: I am not making this up.

The Dean of the College of Education at SLU (which, by the way, is a respected university), Diane Allen, has now accused Thompson of "forgery, alteration, unauthorized possession or misuse of university documents." These "documents" amounted to a notebook, purchased by Thompson, in which she documented Sullivan's First Amendment violations.

Thompson gave a copy of her notes to Allen. She then received an F in student teaching, and--with the ACLU's backing--has filed suit against Southeastern Louisiana University, the Tangipahoa Parish School Board, and several university officials, including SLU president Randy Moffett and Sullivan.

New Orleans Times-Picayune columnist James Gills sums it up best: "The Christians of Tangipahoa have maintained in their letters that it can never be tyranny to let the majority have what it wants. The Christians of Iraq, however, take a different view."

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