Click here for local news coverage of the case.
5-25-14 Update on the case on Fox and Friends
At Issue: Religious Expression in the School
Case Status: Ongoing
The Big Picture
A teacher at Park Lakes Elementary School in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, sternly ordered a 5th-grader—Giovanni Rubeo—to stop reading his beloved Bible during free reading time. She told him, “Put it on my desk!” The teacher then left a voicemail for Giovanni’s father, telling him that “those books” (meaning books like the Bible) were not allowed in “her classroom.”
Why this Case Matters
Broward County school officials violated federal and state law that guarantees the rights of public school students to engage in private religious expression and other private religious activity in schools—including reading religious books like the Bible in free time.
- On April 8, 2014, a teacher at Park Lakes Elementary School in Ft. Lauderdale, FL sternly ordered a 5th-grader—Giovanni Rubeo—to stop reading his beloved Bible during free reading time. She told him, “Put it on my desk!”
- The teacher then left a voicemail for Giovanni’s father, telling him that “those books” (meaning books like the Bible) were not allowed in “her classroom.” Listen to actual audio of the teacher’s voicemail here.
- When Giovanni’s dad, Paul Rubeo, protested his son’s treatment, the school officials sent him a two-sentence reply dodging the key issue of whether students could read religious material during free time.
- Giovanni’s father retained Liberty Institute to represent him and his son.
- On May 5, 2014, Liberty Institute sent a letter to the Broward County, Florida schools on behalf of Paul Rubeo, and his son Giovanni. Our letter demands a written apology within 10 days, and restoration of the rights of children in the Broward School District.
What You Can Do
With your help, we can win this case. But, what about other students in other schools? We are asking you to take two strategic actions:
1. Donate to Liberty Institute now to help us increase the number of students we can help. We need more funds so that we don’t have to turn down a single case!
2. Sign our Petition to defund schools that illegally violate religious liberty. Federal law says that any school district stubbornly ignoring such religious freedom must be denied substantial federal funding! Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Education is not adequately enforcing this law—so please sign our Petition to them. Above all, pray as we go forward with this legal action and others to defend and restore religious liberty in America.
Voice Message from Teacher - Link
Letter from Father - Link
Response letter from school - Link
Demand Letter - Link
2nd Demand Letter 5/14 - Link
Download Press Release - Link
Broward ISD School Training Letter - Link
Florida School District Lifts Ban - Link