Kearny school board cracks down on student recording

Preaching teacher denounces church-state separation

by, January 23, 2007

The Kearny Board of Education is establishing a policy requiring students to get permission from teachers before recording a class -- as Matthew LaClair did to prove that his history teacher preached fundamentalist Christian doctrine during class. (See our earlier report.)

"Students must request permission of the instructor to record a class," the policy states. It also appears to require the consent of classmates. The board approved a first reading of the policy in December, according to its minutes.

To read the policy, a PDF document, please click here.

Matthew LaClair told this evening that he plans to testify against the measure when the board considers adopting it at its February 20th meeting. "I'm going to try to convince them that it's a mistake," he said.

Meanwhile, the the school district issued a news release on January 12 (which you can see here) expressing regret over the "events of September 2006," when the preaching occurred. It suggested that it has taken action against LaClair's history teacher, David Paszkiewicz, saying it was barred by law from disclosing what that action was.

The news release outlines an affirmative adherence to the Constitution and states that teachers must not bring their personal religion into the classroom. It also announces a complaint procedure. It says there have not been any complaints since the LaClair family's last fall.

Paszkiewicz broke his silence earlier this month, with a letter to the Kearny Observer declaring that "there is an effort afoot to undermine the very underpinnings of our freedoms." Stating "the words 'separation of church and state' cannot be found in our Constitution," Paszkiewicz then selectively quotes the nation's founders to make the argument, often heard from the religious right, that the authors of the Constitution did not intend to bar the establishment of religion. Paskiewicz is a youth minister at a local Baptist church.

TOPIC: Public Education