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Religious Textbook Case Could Affect All Idaho Schools

Idaho public school and university students face a ban that would prohibit schools from using “religious documents and text” in their curriculum. The lawsuit Nampa Classical Academy v. Goesling challenges the Idaho Public Charter School Commission’s full ban on the use of texts and documents deemed to be “religious”—even if they are classical books in Western Civilization taught with regard to their literary and historical importance. On behalf of Nampa Classical Academy, the Alliance Defense Fund filed suit in September 2009 after the commission threatened to revoke the academy’s charter if it used the Bible or other religious books for any purpose whatsoever as part of the school’s classroom resource list. The school is contesting a federal judge’s decision to dismiss its lawsuit in May 2010; the hearing begin today at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Nampa Classical Academy, which was in the development process for more than six years, completed its first year—and last—year of instruction in 2010 with more than 500 students. It received approval from the State Board of Education in 2008 and got positive responses from the commission at each stage of development. However, the commission voted in 2009 to prohibit the academy from using any “religious documents and text” in its curriculum or in its classroom—even if used objectively as a curriculum resource. If Nampa Classical Academy loses the suit and the commission’s misrepresentation of the law is allowed to stand, ADF says all Idaho public school and university students will be subject to the ban.

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