Seventh grader files lawsuit after school staff destroys prayer flyers

BONNER SPRINGS, Kan. — A middle school student is fighting back after she was banned from posting flyers promoting “See You at the Pole,” a prayer event that’s held every year at public schools across the nation.

According to court documents, a school counselor ‘forcefully’ told the student, identified only as K.R., her flyers were “illegal,” citing separation of church and state. Court documents state the counselor confronted K.R. after school hours during a school dance in front of her friends. The flyers were subsequently taken down and destroyed by school staff.

K.R., a seventh grader at Robert E. Clark Middle School, contacted the Alliance Defending Freedom and filed a lawsuit. Attorney Matthew Sharp with Alliance Defending Freedom said the school violated K.R.’s first amendment constitutional right of free speech.

“Students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate,” Sharp stated in the lawsuit. “Non-disruptive, private student expression is protected by the First Amendment. … The government may not discriminate against speech based on its viewpoint, regardless of the forum.”

The lawsuit states other students were permitted to post flyers containing other material. The lawsuit cited one student flyer of a tombstone that read “RIP” and “Here Lies K-STATE … I AM GLAD YOU ARE GONE FOREVER BECAUSE YOU TRY TO BE GOOD AS KU BUT YOUR ARE NOT.” Another example included flyers promoting rap artist Lil’ Wayne with the words “Good Kush and Alcohol.”

The lawsuit also alleges that the Clark Middle School newspaper “The Panther Press” sent home an issue in November with a ‘glowing’ review of “Call of Duty: Ghosts,” an M-rated video game that is “replete with graphic violence, profanity, drug use and nudity.”

K.R.’s posters were handmade with colored markers. One read, “For God so love the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16″

A second flyer read, “But God demonstrated His own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8″

A parent, who wished to remain anonymous, emailed FOX 4 and said Clark Middle School Superintendent Daniel J. Brungardt sent out an email that stated the school has been contacted by several national media outlets regarding the federal lawsuit. The email stated in part:

“Although the District Office has not received formal notification of the suit, I understand that the suit pertains to an alleged violation of a student’s religious freedom or rights. Unfortunately, nobody approached middle school administrative staff or District administrative staff regarding their concerns.”

The email went on to state that student/policy concerns are usually resolved at the building level and “it is unfortunate that the first time this particular concern has been brought forth is in federal court.”

Brungardt went on to say, “The information that is out and circling the internet is one-sided, and because building and district administration were never contacted by anyone about this issue when it allegedly occurred, information is very limited at this time. The District will respond to the lawsuit as appropriate, but due to privacy concerns for the student involved, will not engage in a discussion of the details of the situation in the media or the general public. … Generally speaking, students have the right to express their religious beliefs in assignments if germane to the assignment.  Teachers cannot require students to modify, include or excise religious views in their assignments, and must judge assignments by academic achievement.”

FOX 4′s Melissa Stern is following this story and will have more information throughout the day. Refresh this page for updates.

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52 comments

    • Kierstyn Dixon

      I am a student at Clark middle school. I have been bullied the entire time I have been to Clark, the full three years, by the same girls. I have told the counselor, and it still happens. So how come something as unharmful as a few Christian posters gets the counselors attention, but people threatening each other and bullying is okay? Ms. Bonebreak should worry less about taking away freedom of speech and more on the students threatening to kill each other. And Mr. LaCicero, a seventh grade teacher, has been accused of sexual harassment many times, by girls for years, and hasn’t been fired. REALLY!? They need to stop worrying about someone like K.R. being nice enough to invite the Christians at our school who have been shushed by the school to pray when its hurting no one, and focus more on stopping bullying at the school and getting rid of the pedophiles. Besides, the law is that teachers and administrators cant talk about religion, which LaCicero has, but the students can.

  • Patrick Galvin

    Sorry, “counselor” (read- Communist) but the 1st amendment aka -”the right to freedom of religion” overrules your poxy idea of separation. We’ll be expecting your resignation so you can pack your bags and leave the country as you seem to have a real problem with it.

  • Kevin

    Okay, let’s see how supportive of freedom of speech you Christians are when someone’s kid starts posting Koran verses in school, or better yet posts flyers in school inviting kids to a Satanic ritual. I’d love to see your reaction to that and if any of you offer ANY argument against EITHER of those then you are an insincere HYPOCRITE. If you allow Jesus in school then you are ABSOLUTELY obligated to allow Satan and/or the occult, Wiccan beliefs, Islamic beliefs and a whole host of other beliefs that would have you screeching in horror. Consider carefully what you wish for.

      • Kevin

        Hey, if the school allowed my kid or some freaky Goth-type to post a flyers that say “See you at the Wiccan Equinox celebration in the gym” or “Come learn about the power of Satan on school grounds”, I’d say fine, but you and I both know there’d be a huge outrage from the school and a lot of Christian parents if that ever happened.

      • Kevin

        The school is not doing anything to censor her right to free speech off school grounds. She can sing the lord’s praises all she wants on her own time but when she enters a public building paid for by my taxes and the taxes of others they have every right to put some limitations on certain speech. I totally agree that the poster promoting “kush” and alcohol should have been removed – I would not want my children going to a school where that type of lifestyle is allowed to be promoted. Let them go home and talk about illegal narcotics all they want, but not on school grounds.

    • leslie

      Actually Kevin if any type of religion SHOULD be allowed it should be Christianity. It’s what this country was founded upon sorry to say do in my opinion, every other religion should come second to that..it’s been that way for years and now since there’s a big fuss look how chaotic everything is turning out to be.

      • Kevin

        Are you for real? That’s THE biggest load of horse manure I have ever heard and if you really believe it you are completely unAmerican. Show me anywhere in our founding documents where Jesus or the Bible is even mentioned. YOU CAN’T. If the founding fathers had intended us to be a Christian nation that would have been the FIRST thing to be included, and yet it appears nowhere and all you revisionist historians have to hunt and peck to find even the most obscure “evidence”.

    • SC

      This for me is one of the most frustrating topics in America today… My wife toss this around with a point counter-point talk. I get pretty emotional about this as I spent over twenty years in the military defending our rights to freedoms no one else in the world gets. I really don’t care one iota if the constitution refers to or doesn’t refer to to God, Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Satan and so forth… I’m not a bible thumping radical nor a very religious man trying to choke anyone with my beliefs. However, I do believe that religious ideas and teachings start in the home before children ever step through a classroom door. I do believe religion when practiced as intended is a good thing for all… Peace, harmony, love etc. My point is that like sex, drugs and rock and roll our kids are going to be exposed to religion. How they are educated about will go a long way in calming your fears, Kevin, and every one else who has to lose their minds because somene decided to put a nativity scene.

    • Kimberly

      Kevin, so you believe in the lay down and don’t ruffle feathers ? No! I say if you don’t like it and it doesn’t threaten to harm a person then don’t read it if you don’t like its content. This young lady is a great example for the youth in Bonner. Wish we had more children like her.

    • NotTellingYou

      This girl K.R. Did it for all religions, hints the freedom of speech. It’s not the freedom of speech for Christians, but for all the religions in the school! Yeah so what is she is Christian but she did it for all.i go to clark and know her.
      And how could you say such rude things about a seventh grader?

  • grantcounty

    Clayton makes a good point; Separation of Church and State keeps the Government out of Church. Kevin, you don’t get it; why do you assume any supporter of this student has to be a Christian?

    • Kevin

      I’m not assuming that, but regardless THAT is completely irrelevant. Answer this honestly – would you allow my kid or any other to post this: “Come exult in the power that is SATAN, celebration to be held in the school auditorium”?Answer honestly or I have nothing more to say to you because YOU REALLY DON’T GET IT.

      • Kevin

        “Come learn about Jihad and Sharia law at the flagpole” or how ’bout “Christianity is a hoax and the Holy Bible is fiction, come hear why at the flagpole”. Would you be celebrating the courage of the child who posted either of those? ?

  • leslie

    Obviously she intended these flyers to be for those who BELIEVE in GOD to go to the Pole but you have people like Kevin who I imagine would get offended and butthurt and couldn’t just disregard in school. Schools actually allow Muslims to pray in the hallways, explain how this is right? If you say there should be no religion in school then there should be none and thg goes for every religion.

    • Kevin

      That last part, is exactly what I’m saying. Apparently most folks didn’t get that. As for getting “butthurt” – no, more like p*ssed off with self-righteous religious fanatics of all strains.

  • leslie

    School systems are teaching and training children to conform to society, basically telling them that what you believe and have been taught at home is wrong. No independence, ability to reason or make choices anymore or even think for themselves. You actually think, Kevin, that taking God out of the school system, where there has been some kind of discipline and order, or out of the Nation will make it any better? What I see since that has been done is a bunch of people with victim mentalities teaching their children to become victims themselves and that you cannot have anything in life unless it’s given to you by someone. I don’t think God teaches that but guess what, our schools do now.

    • uKevin

      Listen to yourself. You’re the one whining like a victim. “Waaa, the rest of the world doesn’t agree with ME and they’re indoctrinating our children”. “Waaa, they’re letting Muslims pray but not us”. “Waa waa waa”. Why does religious fervor always seem to result in religious paranoia? They seem inseparable.

  • Trey

    You know that part of the Declaration of Independence that says in part “…the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them,…” and “…endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…” would seem to say that this country was founded on religious principles as GOD is referred to specifically in the Declaration. Why do people willfully ignore this?

  • Wow

    If a Muslim would have joined her at “see you at the pole” I believe that would have been great seeing two religions coming together to pray for this broken nation. Since that is what started it all.

  • uKevin

    And why is it that so many religious people are insistent on publicly announcing their beliefs? Every time I see football players point to the sky after they make a great play or when they gather in those big prayer circles after games it just stinks of them wanting to be on display and wearing their religion on their shirtsleeves. I believe the Bible says something about that but it always seems to get lost along with the section that says you can’t eat shellfish. I’ve heard a lot of whining about Muslims “getting” to pray – I’m not here to defend them but let me relate a couple of anecdotes that demonstrate the type of religious humility that I’m suggesting. They both happened at my last job. First, there was a taxi stand across the street from my office. One day I just happened to notice one of the drivers come over to our side and he looked around to find the most inconspicuous place he could where he laid out his little prayer rug and quietly and privately went about his business. He could have gone and prayed on the street corner for all to see but no. Second, one summer we had an intern from Indonesia. After a couple of weeks at the office he felt comfortable enough to confide in me as a friend and one day he asked me very quietly and meekly if I thought the boss or anyone else would mind if he went to another part of the office, well out of view, to use his prayer rug a couple of times a day. Humility. In that same office we had several evangelical Christians and on several occasions they did things in the office setting that absolutely made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. They were some of the most self-righteous punks that I have ever met in my life.

      • SC

        Kevin, and anyone else who opposes freedom of religious expression… Who made you the freedom of expression police? Do you enjoy your right toeexpress how you feel? Then stop being a hypocrite by complaining about a person pointing to their God in recognition… Are you so much more important than anyone else that they can’t give tribute to what they believe in?

      • Kevin

        Yeah, Anna, who are you to pass judgment on me or anyone else?Apparently reading your Bible hasn’t done you any good or you’d know that.And you want to pray for me? You really think highly of yourself if you believe that there’s someone up there in the clouds who listens to YOU. You’re exactly the kind of religious zealot that I wouldn’t want my kids around. Now go pray to your imaginary god to make you less judgemental or better yet, improve yourself on your own – you don’t really need a god or a book to tell you right from wrong if you have morals to begin with.

  • Katy

    As a former student and now adult, if I had found god instead of a bottle maybe I would have graduated high school. As a student BULLIED for YEARS in that place maybe things again had been different as a student that dropped out of another district and tried to RE ENROLL in bonner that place needs jesus. I hope this girl blows them out of the friggin water. In jail (also state funded) your encouraged to read the bible, yet had it been taught in school some may not have ended up in jail. She has he rights to. You go girl and you make it happen!

    • Kevin

      Inmates in jail are adults and free to make up their own minds. Parents of children in public schools have the right to demand that you don’t expose their children to your religion. If you don’t like it, send your kids to private school, homeschool them or start your own school.

  • Joe

    What kind of parents would involve their child in a law suit against her school over prayer flyers? This little girl did not seek out a lawyer and probably never thought of suing but her parents sure jumped on it. Maybe they are behind in their bills and thought this would be a good way to pick up some extra cash. Idiot parents.

    • wayne

      Finally I see a post about it. Everyone is all… “Go girl” and I’m like what. Her parents go straight to the lawyer. Didn’t even give the sup a chance to handle it. Its not the child who is doing anything she is a mirror of the ideals that her parents have pushed into her mind at a young age. She’s not the one filing her parents are. I wonder… If they will seek compensation. And if they will give 10% of that to their church. I mostly agree with Kevin here. The school is funded with tax dollars when kids get off the bus they shouldn’t have time to do what they want. They eat and go to class. When school is over you go home. Extra curr. Activities should be sports band etc. If you want a prayer meeting after school go to the park a walking trail somewhere open to the PUBLIC. School grounds are NOT public property. Even if your a student you can’t just use the property for whatever you want and schools should not foster groups that are not part of school.

  • Yes I'm a mom

    Hahaha I think it’s great… Comparing satanism to Christianity!! Are you freaking kidding me??! Lol… Yes Christianity should not be allowed in school because that might keep kids from cursing, having premarital sex, or even killing someone else! Absolutely NOT.. Don’t want that to happen (note the sarcasm) LOL.. This is my opinion & well if someone doesn’t like it I could seriously care less.. Have a wonderful day :))

    • Kevin

      Hey mom, they’re both religions so if you can bring the Christian religion into public school then anyone else would be within their rights to bring in Satanism, Voodoo or anything else as long as it’s a religion. Again, you religious zealots need to be careful what you wish for.

  • Bonnie porter

    Like I say, I don’t like politicians who wear their Christianity oh their sleeves as a means to be elected. If a Jewish candidate did so, there’d be all kinds of hell to pay. That is really a good example of separation of church and state. This kid is just trying to gain attention, no doubt with the assistance of her family and who knows who else. One more example of some dippy kid getting the media attention. Yawn…….

  • rockchalk898

    How many stereotypes can you make in one paragraph? By saying how they would react to another religion’s flyers is not only misguided, but outside of the topic. How can any MIDDLE SCHOOL support drugs, sex, crime, nudity, prophanity, etc…but then draws the line when someone says anything about Jesus, who promoted loving everyone around you and helping others? Maybe it’s time we quit letting out personal agenda’s dictate how we view social topics like this.

  • JC

    Hey Kristen….You obviously have no understanding of what the 1st Amendment intends. Please get educated properly before posting your thoughts on the matter….Your ignorance is screaming at us!

  • Mary

    That is completely false.

    As president, Adams signed (and the U.S. Senate approved) the 1797 Treaty with Tripoli, which reassured that Muslim nation that “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”

    James Madison, the father of both the Constitution and the First Amendment, consistently warned against any attempt to blend endorsement of Christianity into the law of the new nation. “Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions,” he wrote in his Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments in 1785, “may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects?” Unlike the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution conspicuously omits any reference to God.