FW: Student reprimanded for religious absences
VOLOKH at law.ucla.edu
Tue Nov 23 09:20:29 PST 2004
Any thoughts on this issue? The Indiana Free Exercise Clause
has been interpreted to require strict scrutiny, City Chapel Evangelical
Free Inc. v. City of South Bend, 744 N.E.2d 443 (Ind. 2001), though I
know of no cases that have dealt with the government's role as K-12
The parent of a sixth-grade Lowell Middle School student says the
Tri-Creek School Corp. has threatened to expel her child for religious
Ruth Scheidt said middle school officials forced her 12-year-old son to
sign a letter last month stating he understood if he missed another day
of school for any reason before the end of the semester in January, he
could be expelled. The family had just returned from an out-of-state,
eight-day religious observance called the Feast of Tabernacles,
celebrated by the United Church of God. . . .
Under Indiana law there is no ruling as to whether children are to be
excused for religious purposes, Neal said. The Indiana Department of
Education holds firmly that it is not a reason to excuse students under
Indiana law. . . .
Students are allowed five days of excused absences per semester, Neal
Excused absences include illness with a doctor's note, a death in the
immediate family, quarantine or court appearance.
"Occasionally there may be an emergency in a family," Neal said. "The
principal may excuse a day to do that."
After more than five absences, students must sign a letter acknowledging
they understand they could be expelled. Some states provide a list of
approved absences that are religious-based, but Indiana does not, Neal
said. . . .
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