Robert Muise of the American Freedom Law Center is representing Joelle Silver in her suit against the district. He says Silver received a "counseling letter' back in June ordering her to remove all religious items from her classroom, including, among other things, a poster with an inspirational Bible verse superimposed over an American flag and school books. The School District ordered Silver to remove small, personal sticky notes that contained inspirational Bible quotes and religious messages that she kept discreetly on her desk.
Muise adds, “This is one of the most egregious examples of religious hostility I have witnessed in a public school. Ms. Silver does not cease being a Christian nor does she shed her constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate.”
According to the “counseling letter,” which is now a permanent part of Silver’s employment file, failure to follow any of the directions would lead to “serious disciplinary consequences, including the termination of [her] employment.”
He adds, "The district's hostility toward Silver's Christian faith was blatant, particularly in light of the fact the district permits other teachers and administrators to display in their classrooms and offices various messages and other items that reflect their personal viewpoints on a wide range of subject matter. For example, a social worker at the very same school displays inside and outside of her office various messages that promote the "gay rights" agenda, including LGBT-themed posters and advertisements from activist organizations."
Cheektowaga Central School Superintendent Dennis Kane could not get into specifics, but did talk about the background of the matter. "We received a complaint from a group called Freedom from Religion, and what happened is they had a student who they would not identify complained specifically about certain items," says Kane, who referenced Silver's attorney's statements about what was in Silver's classroom. Kane says the district consulted attorneys and constitution experts leading to the district's decision to send Silver the consulting letter. "We filed the actions based on the law and separating church and state in the schools. We do this not worrying about getting sued, but obeying the law," notes Kane.