Saturday, September 12, 2009

C-J Smacks Mooney & Meeks

In class Thursday, one of my students wondered aloud if she might be permitted to borrow a Breckinridge County school bus without charge.

It would be like a free rental car from Avis; just provide a driver and pay for the gas.

Is borrowing a bus free of charge a privilege only allowed for activities taking place at the superintendent's s church? Does this kind of sweetheart deal happen all the time?

This from C-J:

Stick to football
If the adult school personnel associated with the Breckinridge County High School football team are as tenacious at getting a squad ready to play as they are at splitting hairs, a state championship surely awaits.

The team's head coach, Scott Mooney, and the district's superintendent, Janet Meeks, triggered controversy recently when Mr. Mooney took about 20 players on a school bus to the Baptist church he attends in nearby Hardin County. There, the group attended a revival, and nearly half of them were baptized. Ms. Meeks, who is also a member of the church, witnessed the baptisms.

The mother of one 16-year-old player is upset that her son was baptized without her knowledge and consent, that a public school bus was used for transportation and that Ms. Meeks was present and did not object. Her son said the coach had told him and other players that the outing would include only a motivational speaker and a free steak dinner. Two other parents, however, said their sons told them that the trip would include a revival. Baptisms apparently weren't specifically mentioned, Ms. Meeks concedes.

On its face, the incident seems a clear violation of constitutional strictures against government promotion of a specific religion. Public schools, and its officers, are an arm of the state; they must remain neutral when it comes to the exercise of religious freedom. Baptisms of young people are the province of personal and family decisions.

Exactly what part of this Breckinridge County school officials don't get is unclear, however. They are too busy shrouding the incident in fog.

The trip was voluntary, another coach paid for the gasoline and no player was rewarded or punished based on whether or not he participated, Ms. Meeks said. She, of course, ignores that young people often are influenced by their coaches and feel the coaches have authority over them. Parental consent for the baptisms wasn't necessary because the players are 16 or 17 years old, Ms. Meeks added, disregarding that society views young people of that age to be minors who are barred from activities ranging from voting to signing binding contracts to purchasing alcohol.

And, Ms. Meeks contended, if the upset mother didn't know the purpose of the trip, it's because her son wasn't forthcoming. (When all else fails, blame the kid.) And just to make sure no more uncomfortable details emerge, Mr. Mooney says school officials have told him not to comment.

Breckinridge County officials have tried obfuscation. It doesn't work. Next, they should give transparency a chance and pledge not to again confuse their personal religious beliefs with their public school duties.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Shame on Breckenridge County Schools!

The teacher and the principal should have read recent court decisions or teh Constitution before "saving souls."

Shame on a church associated with the Southern Baptist Conevention for playing along!

Kentucky is, once again, behind the times.