.- Last fall, Steven Williams, a fifth grade teacher at Stevens Creek Elementary School in Cupertino, California found himself under fire for the use of certain historical religious documents in his classroom. Now, with the settlement of a lawsuit against the Cupertino School District, the instructor says he feels vindicated.
The Alliance Defense Fund, who argued the lawsuit on Williams behalf say they have reached a settlement in which Williams, a Christian, and all teachers, can fairly present religious documents relevant to their lessons without censorship.
Kevin Theroit, William’s attorney was quoted by Agape Press saying that "… incidentally, the school district also agreed that teachers can talk about religion in schools, even their religious beliefs that they may subscribe to, as long as it's done objectively and as long as the teachers are not trying to convert students to their particular religious beliefs."
Originally, the school had accused Williams of proselytizing his students with handouts such as William Penn's Frame of Government and excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, both of which make explicit reference to God.
Theriot said that "Mr. Williams is satisfied that they are going to follow their policy [and] that there's not going to be any prohibition on him talking about religious things or distributing documents like the Declaration of Independence or William Penn's Frame of Government."
Supporters of Williams are pleased and say that the case sets a new precedent for what public school teachers can and can’t teach regarding religion. The settlement, Theriot said, "allows teachers, no matter what their religious beliefs, to use appropriate educational material (including supplemental handouts of historical significance) during instructional time that has religious content."
The precedent, he noted, also allows teachers "to teach students during instructional time about matters involving religion" provided the topics are within district-approved curriculum and it is not specifically used to influence the beliefs of students.