In The School

SCHOOL OFFICIALS APOLOGIZE FOR DENYING SIXTH - GRADER’S RIGHT TO USE JOHN 3:16 IN CLASS ASSIGNMENT

Liberty Institute Thanks Somerset Academy for Upholding Students’
Constitutional Right to Express Religious Beliefs 

Mackenzie Fraiser John 3:16_web


NORTH LAS VEGAS, NV, May 22, 2015— Today, Liberty Institute thanked Somerset Academy school officials for issuing a formal, written apology to 12-year-old Mackenzie Fraiser. Academy officials had initially denied the sixth-grader the right to use a Bible verse in a class assignment, but have now agreed to allow Fraiser to resubmit her original project, including her favorite Bible verse, John 3:16.

“We are thankful that Somerset Academy school officials did the right thing by upholding MacKenzie’s right to express her religious beliefs in class assignments,” said Jeremy Dys, Liberty Institute Senior Counsel. “As the school officials correctly noted, U.S. Department of Education guidelines guarantee that students are free to express their religious beliefs in their schoolwork. We are grateful for the Academy’s quick response and commitment to safeguarding their students’ freedom of religious expression at school.”

The apology letter from Somerset Academy reads: “After reviewing the facts of this particular situation, Somerset Academy recognizes that the teacher and assistant principal incorrectly implemented [Department of Education] guidelines….Somerset Academy of Las Vegas and its Administrators apologize for this advertent error. The student will be allowed to resubmit her original presentation, inclusive of her religious beliefs.” (Read the apology letter here).


Case Background

In February 2015, sixth-grader Mackenzie Fraiser’s schoolteacher assigned her class a PowerPoint presentation called “All About Me.” In the presentation, Mackenzie was instructed to include a slide with an “inspirational saying” that was important to her identity. Though she planned to include her favorite Bible verse—John 3:16—Mackenzie’s teacher emphatically told her and the other students they were not allowed to put “Bible verses or quotations from the Book of Mormon” on the “inspirational sayings” slide. Mackenzie’s father, a pastor, emailed the school to ask why Mackenzie had been denied the right to include the Bible verse in her assignment. The Assistant Principal responded that they were simply following the law. On May 20, Liberty Institute attorneys sent a demand letter to Somerset Academy on behalf of Mackenzie, informing school officials that they had violated Mackenzie’s constitutional rights and had ignored U.S. Department of Education guidelines. The letter requested an apology, which the school issued on May 22, 2015. (Read demand letter here).

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Case Files

Demand Letter - Link

Photo - Link

John 3:16 Photo - Link

Somerset Academy Response Letter - Link

Press Release - 05/20/15

 

 

Say “Thank You!” to Mackenzie

Add your name to the Note of Congratulations

When a victim of religious discrimination stands up for religious freedom—especially a young person—we need to say thank you.  It not only affirms a person who has endured a time of stress, but also encourages others to stand up.  Please sign the note below and join with hundreds of others friends of religious freedom and say thank you to Mackenzie Fraiser, a true American religious liberty hero!

 

Thank You, MacKenzie!

 

Dear MacKenzie,


Thank you for having the courage to stand for your faith—and for the religious freedom of all students and all Americans!

I join with the team of Liberty Institute and supporters across our country in congratulating you.  

Without courageous people like you standing up for our religious freedom, we will lose those freedoms.  But if we stand up, we’ll keep them!  Thank you for reminding all of us of that lesson.  May God bless you and your family for taking a stand.


Gratefully,

Thank you, Mackenzie!

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