ACLU of KY Investigates Outside Groups’ Access to Kentucky Elementary Schools
Open Records Act requests seek policies regarding organizations’ access to public schools during school hours to promote religious beliefs to students.
April 4, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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LOUISVILLE, KY – Today the ACLU of Kentucky sent a request to all of Kentucky’s 174 public school superintendents seeking information about the process by which outside organizations and individuals are granted access to public elementary schools during school hours to distribute religious or other literature to students.
In an letter accompanying the Open Records Act request, the ACLU of Kentucky indicates that “it has become apparent” that public elementary schools throughout the state continue to permit members of the Gideons International into classrooms to distribute religious literature directly to students in violation of clearly established law. The ACLU of Kentucky also indicated that their repeated attempts to resolve the issue informally over the past several years, though successful at the individual school level, have apparently been insufficient to adequately educate all of Kentucky’s public school districts about this issue in light of new parental complaints each school year. With the letter, the ACLU of Kentucky asked district superintendents to ensure that the issue is addressed prior to next school year, but it also clarified that the ACLU of KY considers litigation the next logical step to address this issue beginning with the 2013-14 school year.
Commenting on the investigation, ACLU of Kentucky Executive Director Michael Aldridge said, “Directing the religious upbringing of one’s own children is one of the most fundamental rights a parent can have. When government officials, including school officials, take it upon themselves to usurp that parental prerogative, they exceed their governmental authority and undermine religious liberty.” Aldridge added, “The ACLU of Kentucky fully supports the rights of all religious groups to promote their message of faith. Government officials, however, cannot allow our public elementary schools to be used by others to promote one religion over another.”
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