Religious and Family Freedom and the Wake County School Board

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Please consider signing the petition "Families Together in the Wake County Public School System" and adding your voice to those calling on the school board to take measures to ensure families will be kept together within the public school system!

http://www.petitiononline.com/famwcpss/petition.html

The text of the petition is as follows:

To the Members of the Wake County School Board who voted for separating siblings who would otherwise attend the same school, and against religious considerations for appealing school reassignment:

The Wake County Public School System Character Education program (http://www.ncpublicschools.org/nccep/wake_county/overview.html) seeks to educate students on the values of respect, responsibility, caring or kindness, trustworthiness or integrity, fairness/justice, citizenship/civic value, courage, perseverance, self-discipline, and good judgment.

In this day, when many families are stressed or even split due to failings of moral integrity, illegal drug use, a lack of responsibility or apathy by a parent or child, or overwhelming focus on material gains, the values included in the character education curriculum are crucial.

By supporting families and their right to support and strengthen each other in values, religious beliefs, and with positive peer influence, these character traits will be best learned.

To achieve this goal, all families with siblings who choose to attend Wake County Public Schools must be given consideration to allow siblings of similar age to attend the same elementary, middle, or high schools, and all family members attending year-round schools attend on the same schedule track so that the families’ vacation time will be shared.

This focus on family togetherness will increase the opportunities of students to associate with their family members, decrease the burden on families choosing to support their sons and daughters in extra-curricular activities, encourage increased participation of parents in their sons and daughters academic studies, and improve the character, morale, and performance of the students of Wake County Public Schools.

I encourage the Wake County School Board to exercise the traits of respect, caring, fairness, and good judgment by allowing families to help their sons and daughters build these traits through freedom of association of family and religious ties.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Tonight, as with every Monday night, we celebrate family night. We set aside the whole evening to spend together as a family to talk over what is going on for the week and to have a family member present a lesson on a gospel topic. We call it Family Home Evening.

It's a great time to learn from each other, recharge, reconnect, and plan for the coming week.

Today was also the second day of school and the first day of seminary. We have coordinated with other parents who have children going to seminary near Holly Springs High to allow Brittany to attend, while Amber drives to Middle Creek. It is, at best, a temporary solution.

It is difficult to put your daughter into the hands of others knowing that you cannot reciprocate. You can repay the gas money, but the time cannot be easily repaid.

The school board has argued, among other things, in their case that we could simply hire a taxi to ensure that our daughter could make it from the seminary class to school. I think that is a good example of how careless and flippant the school board has been over the whole issue. Anyone who can suggest putting a teenage daughter into a taxi with an unknown stranger every day of the school year is obviously not considering the well-being of the young woman.

I've attached the open letter and petition to the school board below. Soon I'll have a link where other concerned parents can sign this. I hope be able to present this petition to the school board to let them know that we as parents feel strongly that our families should be allowed to remain together at school and to be able to exercise our religious freedoms without fear of thoughtless policies keeping us from doing so.

Please read this over, make suggestions if you like, and I'll post the link to the petition soon.

Sincerely,

David Bailey

(Edited: Final version of petition is shown above. Please consider signing it.)

Friday, August 18, 2006

Last night we pulled another late night (these are getting to be a little too common for us) and put together a motion to reconsider on our original motion to allow Brittany to remain at Middle Creek. We've been noticing a pattern. Even though we have filed a few different motions, none of them are being ruled on by the court, while the Defense has filed several motions, all of them getting prompt attention of the judge. In fact the only motion that has been ruled on was the one that we specifically requested a hearing for. We are going to be in touch with the court staff and judges to work this out.

A couple of these motions are very important, because the documentation we have received from the school board has seemed rather incomplete. We don't want to file our brief until we have completed all the discovery (finding of facts) process and we need an extension of time because we haven't received the documents. We're hoping to resolve these motions soon.

One thing that I have noticed in some of the forums are people stating that everyone's re-assignment appeal requests would be of equal weight, and therefore the school board can't grant one of these without granting all of these.

This is a logical falacy. The board has already granted nearly 40% of the reassignment appeals, many of these have been granted for reasons of convenience, such as a teacher who teaches at a school who wishes to have their son or daughter attend the school that they teach at, or a couple has been recently divorced and doesn't want their child to have to adjust to a new school right now.

Considering this, and there is very little information that has been released in these areas to know how the board has ruled, why, and when, I don't see that granting request for a student to remain at the same school due to religious considerations wouldn't fall into at least a similar or more important category.

We have been getting ready for the start of school, hoping and praying that we can find a way to make this transportation situation work. We've had several parents step forward and offer to assist, and we are so grateful for their offers, but we know that it is not a long term solution if we cannot reciprocate.

We hope to find a better way and will keep you up-to-date as new issues occur.

I will be writing my open letter this weekend and hope to have it up by early next week.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The News and Observer has published a new story on the case: Apex girl must switch schools

It amazes me that a majority of the school board can so casually dismiss concerns about families and religion without a public outcry. Please consider adding your voice to those expressing concern.

I will be announcing an open letter to the school board and a petition for you to get involved in soon. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

If you're upset about the school system ignoring religious beliefs as a valid reason to request consideration like we are, you might be interested in a bill currently in the NC Legislature. It is sponsored by House Representative Russell Capps.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act has been passed in states around the country, but not here in North Carolina.

Here is the link to the bill:

H681: AN ACT TO ENACT THE NORTH CAROLINA RELIGIOUS FREEDOM RESTORATION ACT

Here is a place to look up your local representative and let them know you want this bill passed into law.

http://www.ncleg.net/GIS/Representation/Who_Represents_Me/
Who_Represents_Me.html


I am astonished that it may take a law to get the school board to respect our freedom of religion right here in the great County of Wake, the capitol county, and in North Carolina, here in the middle of the Bible Belt.

I have just been notified that the judge from our administrative hearing is planning to rule against our motion to allow Brittany to continue to attend Middle Creek High School while the case is being heard. We are very sad to hear this as it may mean that Amber and Brittany will be separated for a significant part of their school year this year. It also may mean we will be scrambling for ways to ensure that each of them can attend their pre- and post-school activities, religious and otherwise.

If it happens, this will be the first time in their lives that the two have been separated at school. Even while Amber was attending Middle School and Brittany was in Elementary School, or Amber in her Freshman year of High School and Brittany at Middle School, they both went to the same school campus the Middle and Elementary were right next to each other, as were the Middle and the High School. They are very close and have many similar interests. Obviously, they are upset over this ruling.

This decision of the school board has come at great cost for us and other families in the school system. I urge everyone to contact their school board members and let them know of their concerns about the problems created by splitting families across multiple schools unless required by a split between elementary and middle or middle and high.

We plan to continue the suit and hope for eventual victory in this case. We have long felt that this case is more important than just for our family.

We are currently weighing our options. If our pre-trial motion fails, we may have to consider things such as moving the family to another home within the Middle Creek school boundaries, Rhonda or I leaving our work, Brittany being unable to attend seminary classes long-term, or some other equally unattractive options. In the short-term, it is likely that Brittany will be forced to attend Holly Springs HS and may have to ride the school bus every day and miss her seminary classes. We are hoping this will not happen.

We appreciate the continued prayers and concern shown to us by the many who have contacted us.

* Here is the related WRAL news story and here is the related News and Observer story.

Here is the link to the story. We appreciate WRAL and Kelcey Carlson for covering this important issue for our community.

I'll put up information on the judges decision as soon as I know.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Wow, another busy day.

Today I took time off work to go to the preliminary court hearing with Rhonda. The hearing today was to request the court to allow Brittany to continue attending at Middle Creek until a decision was reached in the case. This is very important to us because the court case could take six months or longer, and it would be much less disruptive to Brittany to be able to continue to attend at the school she's been attending at and have to switch later in the year, rather than being forced to attend at the new school and perhaps coming back to Middle Creek midway through the year.

We also were contacted and interviewed today with WRAL television, our local ABC affiliate on channel 5. It was surprising to have them show up on our doorstep, but our number isn't listed, so I forgive them. I'll post a link to the WRAL story once I have it.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Here is a link to the story from WUNC, our local public radio and NPR affiliate. Out of the nearly an hour of tape, they focused more on the lawsuit aspects and less on the beliefs aspects than I would have wished, but it is still informative and helps get the word out about the importance of religious freedoms which are being restricted by the decisions of the school board. Some parts of the story were greatly simplified for the sake of time, but I guess that is expected for the media format.

Obviously, we disagree with the view that the school board accomodates religious beliefs where possible. It would not be difficult for them to grant our request and yet they choose not to do so.

I appreciate Jessica Jones' and WUNC's efforts to cover this important issue for our community.

Just to update you on recent happenings:

The Defendants have filed several motions to delay the hearing. We countered with a filing to request a preliminary hearing as to whether Brittany could continue to attend Middle Creek HS during the length of this case. It's been a battle to have this motion heard prior to school starting. As you might imagine, it appears that the Defendants don't want even the preliminary hearing to occur before the start of the school year. We're hoping the judge will give us a chance to be heard, but it's in his hands now.

Also, on the media front, we've been informed that our story for WUNC (our local public radio and NPR affiliate) is running their story twice today. Once in the morning and once in the afternoon. When I get the link to the story, I'll post it here.