School Officials Apologize For Denying Sixth-Grader's Right To Use John 3:16 In Class Assignment

Liberty Institute Thanks Somerset Academy for Upholding Students' Constitutional Right to Express Religious Beliefs

May 22, 2015, 16:56 ET from Liberty Institute

NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev., May 22, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, Liberty Institute thanked Somerset Academy school officials for issuing a formal, written apology to 12-year-old Mackenzie Fraiser. Academy officials had initially denied the sixth-grader the right to use a Bible verse in a class assignment, but have now agreed to allow Fraiser to resubmit her original project, including her favorite Bible verse, John 3:16.

"We are thankful that Somerset Academy school officials did the right thing by upholding MacKenzie's right to express her religious beliefs in class assignments," said Jeremy Dys, Liberty Institute Senior Counsel. "As the school officials correctly noted, U.S. Department of Education guidelines guarantee that students are free to express their religious beliefs in their schoolwork. We are grateful for the Academy's quick response and commitment to safeguarding their students' freedom of religious expression at school."

The apology letter from Somerset Academy reads: "After reviewing the facts of this particular situation, Somerset Academy recognizes that the teacher and assistant principal incorrectly implemented [Department of Education] guidelines….Somerset Academy of Las Vegas and its Administrators apologize for this advertent error. The student will be allowed to resubmit her original presentation, inclusive of her religious beliefs." (Read the apology letter: http://libertyinstitute.org/fraiser)

Case Background
In February 2015, sixth-grader Mackenzie Fraiser's schoolteacher assigned her class a PowerPoint presentation called "All About Me." In the presentation, Mackenzie was instructed to include a slide with an "inspirational saying" that was important to her identity. Though she planned to include her favorite Bible verse—John 3:16—Mackenzie's teacher emphatically told her and the other students they were not allowed to put "Bible verses or quotations from the Book of Mormon" on the "inspirational sayings" slide. Mackenzie's father, a pastor, emailed the school to ask why Mackenzie had been denied the right to include the Bible verse in her assignment. The Assistant Principal responded that they were simply following the law. On May 20, Liberty Institute attorneys sent a demand letter to Somerset Academy on behalf of Mackenzie, informing school officials that they had violated Mackenzie's constitutional rights and had ignored U.S. Department of Education guidelines. The letter requested an apology, which the school issued on May 22, 2015. (Read demand letter: http://libertyinstitute.org/fraiser)

About Liberty Institute
Liberty Institute is the largest nonprofit legal organization in the nation dedicated solely to defending religious liberty in America. Liberty Institute protects freedom of religious expression in our military, schools, churches, and throughout the public arena. For more information, visit www.LibertyInstitute.org.

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SOURCE Liberty Institute



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