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Boca Raton school district decides not to fire atheist teacher

The members and president of Boca Raton Community Middle School's PTA are seeking to have one of the school's language arts teachers fired after learning of his atheist beliefs. This stems from his role in erecting a display in the south Florida city's public Sanborn Square Park, labeled with "All children shall hail Satan."

The teacher, a staunch supporter of church/state separation, is accused by the school's PTA president of advocating a message that is unbecoming of a middle school teacher. She and others has called for the school district superintendent that oversees the school to fire him.

At the same time, the teacher alleges that the alarming quote on the visual art display, is taken out of context. He argues it is merely an example of "artistic expression of defiance" to protest the city's use of public funds to host a live nativity scene in the park each year.

While school administration has investigated the PTA president's concerns; there is no evidence to support any instance of the teacher sharing his beliefs with his students. The teacher explicitly denies having ever either championed his own beliefs or disparaged those of his students or other teachers at any point during his career.

This allegation of educator wrongdoing comes at a time in which Pew Research Center statistics show that there are a growing number of non-religious people in the sub 30-year-old age group. Although the teacher reports that he's found his students historically to be "tolerant, respectful, and educated about diversity than most adults," he points out that he and others have an unwritten agreement not to discuss his outside affiliations.

Because the teacher's activities were relegated exclusively to his personal time, the school district has no intention to further address the matter. In fact, while the district superintendent emphasized how he had been made aware of the PTA president's concerns, he said it is not the first of its type to be addressed with the school board. He said it is not their responsibility to "micro-manage what an individual does outside the schoolhouse."

Cases like this are waged by parents against Florida educators and school boards on regular basis throughout Florida. If you suspect wrongdoing or you have been accused of such, contact a Florida education law attorney to discuss the particulars of your case.

Source: Patheos.com, "Boca Raton PTA head wants teacher fired for promoting satanism in his free time," Hemant Mehta, Dec. 19, 2016

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