Speak Out: School Board Sued for Service Policy

Christian alliance says Fairfax policy to accept only volunteer activities with a secular purpose is unconstitutional. Tell us: Should religious activities count toward service hours?

Fairfax County's school board is facing legal action from a Christian group that said denying a student's church-related service hours for National Honor Society requirements discriminates against religious students.

The Alliance Defense Fund, based in Arizona, is representing the student. A spokesman told the Washington Post excluding activities widely considered "community service" in non-religious contexts is "an unconstitutional policy that needs to be remedied."

The student, an unnamed senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, submitted 46 church-related volunteer hours as part of a requirement for membership in the National Honor Society, which requires 12 hours per school year.

The hours were spent as a Sunday school leader, singing songs, doing crafts and teaching lessons to children, according to the suit.

Fairfax County students in grades 6, 8 and 12 can submit hours as part of a service learning initiative to earn recognition at graduation ceremonies. Various organizations within the school system can also have service hour requirements of their own.

The National Honor Society defers to its local chapters to make rules about what kind of community service counts toward its requirements, the Post reported.

The group's adviser told the student the hours did not count because they were done at a religious meeting, according to the suit.

The school system said in a statement to the Post that it was not aware of the situation until it was served with the suit. After it was filed, they credited the student with the hours and reinstated the student's membership, the Post reported.

The alliance plans to continue with the suit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, in hopes of forcing a policy change.

For the full story, click here.

Tell us: Should religious activities count toward service hours? Let us know in the comments below.

Jody March 14, 2012 at 08:41 PM
This is a National Honor Society issue but I agree with Anoneemous that our school system is trying to replace service done in concert with one's religion with non-religious "community service." All good things should be provided by the government and not God according to the socialist far-left. Schools should teach actual subjects and not require community service; parents are responsible for the moral upbringing of their children. Colleges should not require community service as part of the admissions process! (See "Race to the Top.") Why are they looking for a way around choosing kids with the best grades and SAT scores? Why are more entities starting scholarships based on community service and not based on scholarship? This is ridiculous. Let parents raise their own children, let kids get college acceptance and scholarships based on academic achievement; not on hours they can't spare helping out at a day care center or whatever. No wonder our kids are falling behind the rest of the world.
Kim March 14, 2012 at 09:39 PM
I, too, am a religious Democrat. Area churches contribute a great deal to the community through the volunteer activities of their parishioners. Reston Interfaith is a good example of many religions working together for the good of everyone, whether Christian or Muslim or atheist or whatever.
Jeffrey Pandin March 15, 2012 at 01:26 AM
This is NOT FCPS policy. I'm on the review committee at Edison High School and we would have accepted church-based activity as long as it wasn't liturgical (ie, singing in the choir or altar server, etc) That said, since the student involved has no damages, this is not a matter for the Federal Court. The family should take it up with the School Board if they want a county-wide clarification of this matter.
Anoneemous March 15, 2012 at 03:28 AM
As US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” As Anoneemous wrote: "The best way to stop discrimination in awarding Fairfax County National Honor Society credit for community service is to stop discrimination for community service on the basis that it is church-related." It's really hard to forget great true statements. Recommend all readers try reading the Martin Luther King speech at the Lincoln Memorial and the case in which Chief Justice Roberts made the famous quote above. Both men speak the truth. Martin Luther King is surely rolling over in his grave when he hears what has happened to his "judged by their character" comment. Thank goodness Chief Justice is alive to give correct meaning to the corruption in the meaning of non-discrimination of any kind, of color, race, religion, sex, etc. This local school board fiasco is but one classic liberal implementation of unconstitutional discrimination.
Bob and Inge Lipp March 15, 2012 at 10:51 PM
The Board is just wrong on this one! Hope they lose the suit.


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