Uncategories Group Calls Out Orrville City Schools Board Of Education Over Prayer Before Meetings
Group Calls Out Orrville City Schools Board Of Education Over Prayer Before Meetings
Group Calls Out Orrville City Schools Board Of Education Over Prayer Before Meetings
Members of the Orrville City Schools Board of Education and Superintendent Jon Ritchie discuss details of a temporary mask mandate at a September school board meeting. ORRVILLE – An organization known for promoting the separation of church and state is taking City Schools to task for praying at school board meetings. The Freedom From Religion Foundation notified the Board of Education via a Dec. 22 email that opening the monthly public meetings with a Christian prayer “is beyond the scope of a public-school board,” according to rulings and precedents made by the Supreme Court. The school district is reviewing the matter with its legal counsel, said Superintendent Jon Ritchie, and may discuss the issue at a future board meeting. Car crashes into elementary school: School to resume Monday for McMullen students after truck strikes building Freedom From Religion Foundation makes its case Karen Heineman, a staff attorney for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, said the organization was contacted in October by a parent who lives in the school district and who attended a recent school board meeting that was opened with a prayer. The letter to the board stated, “the prayer witnessed by our complainant was Christian and ended with ‘our savior Jesus Christ’,” and noted the prayer came before the pledge of allegiance, the first item listed on many of the school board agendas. Holiday COVID wave is here: Hospitals, health officials urge caution as cases spike Orrville school board member Donna Smith (left) listens as fellow board member Wayne Steiner shares his views on masks in schools at a September board meeting. Steiner had voted against a temporary mask mandate. “Board member Wayne Steiner promotes his personal religious beliefs at board meetings and has been hostile to the expression of other religious views,” according to the foundation’s letter. Heineman said that may have swayed the board’s vote on mask requirements. “There had been some initial talk, (the board) seemed to be leaning toward the mask mandate. The one board member promoted his views that basically God decides how long we’re going to be here with or without a mask. And then the vote went the other way.” School district policies state the board is prohibited from discriminating against anyone based on several personal aspects, including their religion. Heineman said prayer at public meetings and allowing board members to share their personal views negates those policies. Story continues “Even the district policies … Say board members have the responsibility to be representative to be responsive, and that the board doesn’t discriminate on the basis of religion,” Heineman said. “I think when you have a Christian prayer opening every board meeting, and when you have somebody expressing his personal religious beliefs, they aren’t even following their own policies.” An email and a phone call to Steiner through the board office were not returned. Making change: Parkview students surpass goal, raise over $1,200 for Salvation Army Orrville School District response Members of the Orrville City Schools Board of Education. File photo taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Board President Greg Roadruck confirmed the board says a prayer before each meeting, describing the intent of the prayer as a moment to come together rather than a push for any one set of beliefs. “Our intent is not to force anything on anybody or anything like that,” Roadruck said. “The intent of a prayer, in my opinion only, is that it’s to clear our mind and make sure we’re thinking not just (about) ourselves but the entire community.” Roadruck said the prayer is said before the meeting is called to order so that it is not a part of the meeting.
Norwayne treasurer to retire: Superintendent of Norwayne schools dubs retiring district treasurer ‘a wonderful mentor’ While the board has not met since the letter was sent, Roadruck said, the prayer matter will be reviewed to ensure the board is following the rules. “We take an oath, I’ll take it again here shortly, to uphold the Constitution and all the laws of the state of Ohio,” Roadruck said. “So we do have to go by that, so that’s what we’ll do.” What happens next? Heineman said the foundation is awaiting the board’s official response to the letter. As of Dec. 27, Superintendent Jon Ritchie said all board members had received a copy of the letter and are reviewing it independently. Ritchie also said the district’s legal counsel is reviewing the letter and the matter may be addressed at a future board meeting. Masks to return in Wooster schools: Wooster school district extends mask requirements for all students with new year Any changes to how the school board conducts its meetings are yet to be determined, however, Roadruck said he does not want the matter to become a long-term issue. “Personally, I (may) have different thoughts, maybe,” Roadruck said. “But legally, we are bound by the laws of the state and I’m not gonna waste any taxpayers’ money on fighting Ohio laws or the Constitution.” Reach Rachel Karas at [email protected] On Twitter: @RachelKaras3 This article originally appeared on The Daily Record: Freedom From Religion Foundation gives prayer warning to Orrville BOE Renewal Of Indian Education Policy ‘a Step In The Right Direction’ For Indigenous Education Native American educators praised the Arizona State Board of Education and the Department of Education for renewing the state’s Indian Education Policy last month, a move they say moves toward improving education for Indigenous students. “This is absolutely a step in the right direction,” said Esther Nystrom, vice president of the Arizona Indian Education Association (AIEA), a non-profit organization made up of educators and community members that work together to improve the K-12 and college education of Indigenous students in Arizona. Sign up here for The 74’s daily newsletter. Donate here to support The 74’s independent journalism. Through this renewal, Nystrom said that it shows that the Arizona State Board of Education and Arizona’s Department of Education are willing to continue to build relationships with tribes and leaders in Indian education. “We want to make sure that we give encouragement and support to our Native American students and with the renewal of the policy it is advocating for Native American people,” she added. “We want people to understand our community and know that we are still here and that we are in the school system.” The Indian Education Policy was adopted by the Arizona School Board of Education in 1985, then revised and adopted again in 2002. On Oct. 25, the board renewed the policy. “The purpose of this policy is to promote maximum Indian participation and to ensure collaboration in achieving quality education for American Indian people,” the policy reads. The Arizona State Board of Education recognizes the value and importance of Arizona’s American Indian languages, cultures, and histories.” For Kimberly Daingkau-Begay, president of AIEA, the renewal shows that the State Board of Education recognizes the nation-to-nation relationship Arizona’s 22 tribes have with the state and federal governments. And it provides some weight for Indigenous educators when they want to address their needs or improvements for Indian education, Daingkau-Begay said. Story continues “Having this renewed is a fairly strong statement in support of American Indian students and their education,” she said. “We are still here, we want people to know that we are still making a difference, we are still doing great things in Indian education,” she added.
“We have a lot of Native students doing amazing things out there — let us show you what those are, because this is something that we are doing right now as Native American people.” Nystrom and Daingkau-Begay are also part of Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman’s Indian Education Advisory Council at the Arizona Department of Education. It was members of the advisory council who brought the policy renewal request to Hoffman, and she took it to the Arizona State Board of Education in October. Implementation of policy relies on local educators The Indian Education policy has been in place since 1985, and according to the State Board of Education Executive Director Alicia Williams, once a policy is adopted it doesn’t expire. “The Board is an entity, made up of individuals, but it is the entity that sets policy,” Williams said. “Members may come and go, may even change/adjust policies, but for the most part, policies remain because the Board, as the entity, approved them.” So, when the board does renew an older policy, Williams said it primarily serves to remind people that it is there by bringing it to their attention. “Renewing a policy allows schools to recall that SBE has the policy ‘on the books’ and allows for schools to remind their governing boards and apply the policy at the local level where it is relevant,” she added. Even with the policy renewal, it will still be up to local school boards and districts to make sure that education about Indigenous people and communities is included in their curriculums. “The Arizona State Board of Education strongly recommends that Local Education Agencies integrate Arizona American Indian languages, cultures, and histories into all areas of the curriculum to foster appreciation and understanding for all students,” the policy states. Hoffman said working with the Office of Indian Education has been a high priority for the Arizona Department of Education since she was elected in 2018. She said she wants to keep expanding and elevating the work they do. When she took office, she said the Office of Indian Education was run by one person, and it never received state funding, even after the department added it to its annual budget request. It wasn’t until the department received COVID-19 recovery funds that it was able to dedicate $1 million dollars to the Office of Indian Education, which allowed four more people to be hired. “With this bigger team, we’ve been able to do more to serve our tribal nations and really build on those partnerships with the tribal nation’s leaderships,” Hoffman said. She said that making this recommendation to the state board was really important after the recent experiences and challenges Arizona’s Indigenous communities faced during the pandemic. It helps align the policy as a priority by having the board recommit to it, she added. “This was just one way they felt like they could elevate and promote the needs of our schools, educators, and students who are part of our Indian education community in Arizona,” Hoffman said. “I feel very proud to be on the board that has unanimously supported this policy. I’m pleased that we were able to pass this with such ease.” This article originally appeared in the Arizona Mirror. Related: Sign up for The 74’s newsletter American University Of Afghanistan’s Students Are Scattered All Over The World, But Their Education Continues After Kabul fell to the Taliban in August 2021, Halima received an email from the American University of Afghanistan that she would be on a flight out the next day. She took a small backpack with two sets of clothes, and left behind her family and the first 19 years of her life. The next day, she arrived at the American University of Iraq–Solemani. She was at first worried about her safety in what she regarded as another war-torn country, but she eventually settled in and felt secure at her new campus. Her course schedule is a mix of in-person classes with fellow students from the university in Iraq and online courses with Afghan students from around the world. Scattered
throughout the world, the students from the American University of Afghanistan are logging on across time zones to continue their education. Over half of the students have now been evacuated from Afghanistan and are mainly in Iraq, Kyrgyzstan and the U.S., with others in countries like Germany, France, Chile and Rwanda. CBS News spoke to seven current students and is not using their real names out of security concerns for the students and their families. American University of Iraq, where some of the students are now located. The American University of Afghanistan was established in 2006 as the nation’s first private college with a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development. It was founded with 50 students and grew to over 1,000, with the aim of establishing a form of higher education built on the American model. The physical campus closed soon after the Taliban took control this summer. Over 2,000 miles to the east of Iraq, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Fazal, a business student, joins his class from his new apartment near the American University of Central Asia. He’s learning some Russian, the local language spoken, to get by in his new environment. “I needed to leave my family, my father and mother, because I didn’t want to be a threat to them by being affiliated with a U.S. Institution,” he said. Concentrating on his studies has been difficult, with his mind wandering back to his homeland and family, but he remains motivated to graduate. “It has been a struggle to get back to the same focus, the attention span that I previously had,” he said. “But I kind of keep trying and putting in effort to get back to being normal.” “They were impressive people even in relatively normal times, but what they’re demonstrating now with their resilience and their ambitions and their desire to learn surpasses anything I’ve ever seen from students anywhere in the world,” said Ian Bickford, president of the university. Keeping the classes going hasn’t been easy. Schedules still run on Kabul time to standardize when students around the world meet. That has students and professors signing on at various hours of the night and day. The professors preview all the material at the beginning of the week, with online class sessions acting as a supplement. This format aims to help students who may not be able to attend every class. “We thought that was a really important signal to send to our community that we are still there and we can still teach,” said Dr. Victoria Fontan, vice president of academic affairs at the university and a professor of peace and conflict studies. The students remaining in Afghanistan face unique challenges. With electricity and internet no longer reliable, it has been difficult for Norie to attend class. She has not told her family that she is continuing her studies with the university online. She fears them finding out, accidentally mentioning her continuing education and the repercussions that could follow. But beyond the anxiety is the loneliness that plagues her current life as a woman in Afghanistan. “I can’t go alone to meet with my friends. I can’t go shopping alone. I can’t go do sports. I used to run with my father in the morning and I can’t anymore.” In a refugee facility in France, Hassan, a student who made it out of Afghanistan on his own, said he never thought he would leave his country and worries about his future. “When I came to France, I lost my hope. I was like, I’m nothing right now. I was studying, and here I have nothing. I don’t even have a bachelor’s degree.” From his room at the facility, he continues with his classes online in hopes that he will be relocated to a university. While still a student in Kabul, he was working on developing a software that would make it easier for students to take classes from their phone. He worries that his family is in danger and that there is nothing he can do to help them. Even as the students are spread across 28 countries, some still hope to see their futures in Afghanistan. Pashtana Dorani was evacuated to the U.S.
In late October on a researcher visa. She is at Wellesley College in Massachusetts researching the impact of conflict on women’s education while finishing her undergraduate degree. In Afghanistan, she founded LEARN, a nonprofit focused on education, organizing projects around digital literacy and menstrual hygiene management. While grateful for the opportunity to be in the U.S., she maintains that she wants to take the skills she learns back to her home country when it feels safe. “Staying in the U.S. Is good, I’m grateful for the support I have right now, and I’m so grateful for all these amazing women around me,” she said. “But at the end of the day, the heart is where home is. And home is Afghanistan.” Trending News Mummy of ancient Egyptian pharaoh is “digitally unwrapped,” revealing secrets “Absolutely horrifying”: Aid workers confirmed dead in Myanmar massacre Biden lifts Omicron-related travel restrictions on 8 African countries Gold ring with Jesus symbol among treasure found in ancient shipwreck Teen charged for allegedly partying at nightclub after positive COVID test Download our Free App For Breaking News & Analysis Download the Free CBS News app