Posted: Wednesday, August 13th 2014 at 10:13am
Schofield: We will 'carefully, deliberately' investigate allegations
By Mitch Clarke, Editor
Superintendent Will Schofield said Wednesday that Hall County Schools will seriously investigate allegations made by an atheist group that religion has become unconstitutionally infused in the Chestatee High School football program.
In an interview on WDUN’s “Morning Talk,” Schofield suggested the school district is on solid legal ground, but he said the letter from the American Humanist Association Appignani Humanist Legal Center gives the district a chance to be certain is following the law.
“The first reaction I’ve got to a letter like we got yesterday from a group in Washington, D.C., is to take a deep breath and as a school district, we’ll take it seriously. We’ll start asking some questions and we’ll want to see if we’re staying within the letter and the spirit of the law,” Schofield said.
In the letter, the AHA says that they "have been informed that the school’s football coaches have been using their position to promote Christianity on the football team by integrating Bible verses into functional team documents and team promotions in various ways."
The complaint came from a "concerned citizen" who has asked to remain anonymous. The letter was addressed to Superintendent of Hall County Schools Will Schofield, Board of Education Chairman Nath Morris and Chestatee Principal Suzanne Jarrard.
Schofield said some of the letter’s allegations are worth investigating, but he said many of the allegations are off base.
“We need to be very careful, very deliberate and do this in a very defendable manner,” the superintendent said. “There was an awful lot in that letter that I don’t think has any legal basis. There are some things that we do need to look at so we are sure we are doing things the right way.”
Schofield said he fully supports the school system’s employees, and he cited the system’s mission statement, “Character, competency and rigor for all.”
“That character piece is above all the most important thing we do,” Schofield said. “I will stand with our 3,400 employees. We realize that these are not our children. They belong to this community and we want to support this community by helping to raise the next generation.”
Schofield suggested changes would be made if necessary, but he said he and the school board would defend the system if its actions are found to be within the law.
“Unfortunately, when school systems get letters like this and people start rattling sabers, usually the first reaction by a lot of school districts is, oh my, goodness, we don’t want to be in the news, we don’t want to be sued, so we better stop doing whatever we are doing,” Schofield said. “I don’t think that will be the first reaction of the Hall County School Board.”
Link: Listen to full interview with Will Schofield
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