Wappingers Central School District in Wappingers Falls, Dutchess County is in hot water for denying a ninth grader’s request for permission to form a Christian students’ club at school.
Freshman Daniela Barca asked her school’s administration for permission to form the “OMG! Christian Club” at Roy C. Ketcham High School. The purpose of the club was “‘offer “faith-based support” during biweekly student-initiated meetings where students have “discussions about living for God in a godless society.”’” The club also planned to hold clothing drives and food drives, and to support Operation Christmas Child.
According to Barca’s attorneys at First Liberty Institute (FLI), Barca met with her principal three times about the proposal before being told that it had been rejected. Ironically, the school asserted that the proposed club would be “‘seen as exclusive.’” (The school does, however, recognize several other student clubs—including an LGBT rights club.)
First Liberty Institute recently wrote to the school district to demand that it reverse course and grant Barca’s application. According to FLI, the school district’s actions violated the Equal Access Act. Furthermore, FLI accused the school district of displaying hostility to religious faith in violation of the First Amendment.
While it is unfortunate that public schools continue to violate clearly established legal principles that allow public school students to form Christian groups, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms is thankful for the attorneys at FLI and for the bravery of Christian students like Daniela Barca.