District accused of rejecting Christian school over its religious faith

Officials in the Greenfield Public School system in Massachusetts have been given a letter warning them their refusal to approve the application of a church school “because of its religious mission” is a violation of the Constitution and the district could end up being liable for the costs of a legal fight.

In fact, the letter from Liberty Counsel pointed out that Boston refused to resolve a dispute over flying a Christian flag when it got a notification letter, and it ended up facing a court order that it pay $2.1 million in legal fees to the organization.

The dispute in Massachusetts is over the refusal of the district to recognize Providence Moldovian Baptist Church’s school, Providence Christian Academy.

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The reason has been given as the school’s mission to “teach students using a Christian school curriculum.”

However, Liberty Counsel is warning the district that violates the Constitution and state law.

The legal team explained, “Providence Christian Academy has provided all pertinent information that the Greenfield School Committee requested, in accordance with Massachusetts law. The school will use the Abeka Christian school curriculum which is accredited by the Florida Association of Christian Colleges and Schools and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools. Full accreditation of Abeka through FACCS provides additional national and state recognition with the National Council of Private School Accreditation, which is a consortium of accrediting associations for the recognition of early childhood, elementary, and secondary private schools, and serves as a national review panel for the standards and review procedures of private school accrediting associations.”

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But, the legal team documented that during a recent meeting, “School Committee Member Elizabeth Ann Deneeve used her position to air her personal beliefs, and to falsely disparage, malign, and misrepresent Providence Christian Academy and the curriculum it intends to use.”

For example Deneeve claimed, “They use the Abeka Curriculum, which I believe is in direct opposition to the values of GPS. The curriculum is full of false information and students who learn from it have a harder time getting into four-year colleges and universities because they will believe a whole set of things that are erroneous and be historically illiterate, which I think is a bad thing for our community and our country, and ultimately this is going to be reflected in a real breakdown in the separation of church and state, which is really the agenda of these curricula.”

She claimed Abeka books blame “Satan” “for the spread of the theory of evolution and modern psychology; it is taught in the ‘Civil War’ section that black slavery was just cheaper than indentured servitude, and slaves were immigrants.”

Deneeve also had negative comments about science and history lessons.

Liberty Counsel warned, “After Deneeve expressed her anti-religious views, the committee failed to approve the church school’s application on the basis of its religious beliefs and its choice of a well-established Abeka curriculum.”

“The Greenfield School Committee is violating the First Amendment and Massachusetts law by discriminating against Providence Christian Academy based on the personal opinions or preferences of its members about the curriculum, or the manner in which the curriculum is taught,” Liberty Counsel explained.

Mat Staver, the legal team’s chairman, said,.”The Greenfield Public School Committee’s failure to approve the Providence Christian Academy’s application is unlawful and unconstitutional. Perhaps these committee members need to return to class and learn the law. Parents, not the government, have the right to choose the best education for their children. Providence Christian Academy must be approved and allowed to open immediately.”

The letter, addressed to the school committee, the city’s mayor and Supt. Christine DeBarge, said the letter is its “final attempt” to resolve the dispute short of “legal proceedings.”

The letter cited the $2.1 million fees payment from Boston, as well as a similar $1.35 million fees payment from California in a fight over COVID limits on churches.

“Please do not make the same costly mistake. We wish to resolve this matter quickly and without cos to you, but that can only happen if we receive your positive response and corrective action on or prior to August 10, 2023,” it explained.

The church’s intention is to have a school “to support local parents who wish to provide a private Christian education for their children.” And the curriculum is “accredited numerous ways.”

The school is warned that its committee “may not deny the church school’s application based on the personal opinions or preferences of its members about the curriculum, or the manner in which the curriculum is taught.”

In fact, the letter explains, the board is banned from prescribing “a secular orthodoxy” for schools.

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Content created by the WND News Center is available for re-publication without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@wndnewscenter.org.