Category Archives: schools

Xenia School District Income Tax Replacement Levy Rejected by Voters

Xenia Community School District income tax replacement levy was rejected by voters. Almost 28 percent of voters, favored the proposed levy while 72 percent opposed it. As has been widely publicized, the current 1/2 percent income tax remains as one the school’s revenue sources. As projected by the District, a budget surplus in excess of $1.8 million is expected in fours or less.

Passing Xenia Schools Income Tax Replacement Levy: The Bottom Line

By Daniel Downs

Xenia Community School officials want residents to agree with their plan to replace the current one-half percent income tax with a 1.5 earned income tax levy. The difference between the two is relatively simple. With the current income tax, earned compensation and unearned compensation is taxed. Earned compensation includes wages, salaries, commissions, tips, after-expenses business profits, and similar types of income. Unearned income consists of pensions, public assistance, unemployment, investment income, and similar types of income. With an earned income tax, only earned compensation is taxed.

Why do school officials want to replace the current income tax with an earned income tax? Is it to help the elderly on fixed incomes or the poor on public assistance? Do they make doing business in Xenia less costly? An earned income tax would benefit them all. However, the bottom line is not making taxation more equitable nor is to help the poor. The poor wage earner ends up with less money.

The bottom line is this: The proposed tax levy is the fast-track to a $6.4 million budget surplus in four years. Literally, this figure is the last line of the school district’s five year financial forecast. School officials apparently want to have about the same amount in the bank as they prior to the recession. In 2009, the school district had over $6 million in the bank. In 2008, the bank balance was over $5 million and $4 million in 2007. Without the new income tax levy the budget surplus is estimated to be $1.875 million in four years, which is a little less than the surplus balance reported in 2006.

Why do school officials want $6 million in the bank? One reason is state and federal banks pay interest. However, the interest usually is little more than the rate of inflation. Right now, the inflation rate is somewhere between 1-2 percent. Another reason is cash flow. Money collected from the earned income tax would get into the school district’s bank account much quicker than if another property tax was levied. Still another reason is that a fat bank account generates more money to spend with less stress. It must be stressful having to deal with increasing employee salaries and benefits as well as buying new buses, equipment, furniture, trips and other perks during a global recession.

The school district’s five year forecast appears to be based on the belief that the economy will have recovered to pre-recession levels of growth and productivity. That is not the case. No serious government economist, private sector economist or financial expert expects such a return by 2016. The Congressional Budget Office does not. Economist Nouriel Roubini sees more recessionary clouds in the American as well as global horizon. And, accountant and financial adviser Rob Clarfeld also cautions investors about the global recession.

Like many others, Congressional Budget Office economists estimate unemployment to still be 8 percent in 2015 and maybe 6.6 percent by 2016. However, it all depends on what the Europeans, U.S. Congress, and the newly elected president does. Many financial experts claim they are not actually fixing the housing, credit, and debt problems that created the economic crisis in the first place.

It should be remembered that the great depression lasted 10 years. During those years, the economy grew an annual average of a little over 1 percent with high unemployment. It looks like the liberals will achieve another 10 years of slow economic growth and high unemployment.

Again, the bottom line is that the school wants more money than it actually needs. Because of the economic uncertainty, giving the school officials all they want may prove to as problematic as two-story elementary schools. We just might get shoved down the stairs and loose all of our nickels and dimes.

The Criminalization of America’s Schoolchildren

John W. Whitehead, Constitutional attorney, author and president of The Rutherford Institute, explains how American schools are the tool of government by which children are made compliant citizens of an American police state.


Also, you can read the print version at

Zero Tolerance Victory: Md. Board of Ed. Reverses Suspension of H.S. Lacrosse Players for Possession of Deadly Weapons (Penknife, Lighter)

(Easton, MD) The Maryland State Board of Education has reversed the suspensions of two Easton High School lacrosse players for possession of “deadly weapons,” namely a penknife and lighter found in their lacrosse bags. Although it was understood that the penknife and lighter were tools used by the boys to maintain their lacrosse equipment, the police were called and one player was actually handcuffed, fingerprinted and charged with possession of a deadly weapon. In reversing the suspensions, the Maryland State Board of Education noted that the students had voluntarily told officials they possessed the items, that use of the tools to maintain lacrosse equipment had been tacitly approved by coaches, and that it was the actions of school officials themselves that had caused any “disruption” to the educational process. Ordering that the students’ academic records be completely expunged of the incident, the State Board explained, “This case is about context and the appropriate exercise of discretion, in full consideration of all the facts involved in the case, including whether to suspend and whether to call the police.”

“This is a huge victory for students everywhere,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “It’s a victory of reason and fairness over the kind of hysterical, irrational exercise of authority that teaches children to fear those in power.”

According to Laura Dennis, the mother of one of the suspended boys, school officials reported receiving an anonymous tip that there may have been alcohol on the lacrosse team’s bus on April 13, 2011, when the team was headed to an away game. Based on this so-called “tip,” school officials boarded the bus, told the players to identify their bags, and removed the players from the bus while they searched the bags. During the search, officials discovered a lighter in Casey Edsall’s bag and a number of small tools, including scissors, a penknife, a screwdriver and pliers, in Graham Dennis’s bag. School officials reacted by calling law enforcement officers to the scene. Dennis—whose bag contained the scissors, penknife, screwdriver and pliers—was handcuffed, fingerprinted and charged as a juvenile in possession of a deadly weapon. School officials ultimately suspended both boys from school: Edsall for one day and Dennis for ten days.

Coming to the students’ defense, attorneys for The Rutherford Institute argued that the suspensions violated fundamental principles of due process of law because the lighter and penknife were not clearly prohibited under the school’s policies. Moreover, neither item could reasonably be considered a “dangerous weapon,” Institute attorneys insisted, because the only applicable definitions of “dangerous weapons” make no mention of lighters and specifically exclude small penknives such as the one Dennis used to maintain his lacrosse equipment. Despite an outpouring of public support for the players, the Talbot County Board of Education subsequently elected not to reverse the suspensions and expunge the players’ academic records. Upon appeal to the Maryland State Board of Education, Institute attorneys pointed out—and the State Board of Education agreed—that Talbot County’s policies authorize suspension only as a “last resort” for repeated disciplinary infractions or where a student’s presence is a danger to the school community. The suspension of Edsall and Dennis was therefore “illegal,” as it was in direct conflict with those provisions. Affiliate attorney John W. Garza acted on behalf of The Rutherford Institute in its defense of Dennis and Edsall.

Rutherford Institute Appeals to Ohio Supreme Court on Behalf of Science Teacher Fired for Urging Students to Think Critically About Evolution

The Rutherford Institute has appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court on behalf of John Freshwater, a Christian teacher who was fired for keeping religious articles in his classroom and for using teaching methods that encourage public school students to think critically about the school’s science curriculum, particularly as it relates to evolution theories. Freshwater, a 24-year veteran in the classroom, was suspended by the Mount Vernon City School District Board of Education in 2008 and officially terminated in January 2011. The School Board justified its actions by accusing Freshwater of improperly injecting religion into the classroom by giving students “reason to doubt the accuracy and/or veracity of scientists, science textbooks and/or science in general.” The Board also claimed that Freshwater failed to remove “all religious articles” from his classroom, including a Bible.

The Rutherford Institute’s appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court is available at

“Academic freedom was once the bedrock of American education. That is no longer the state of affairs, as this case makes clear,” stated John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “What we need today are more teachers and school administrators who understand that young people don’t need to be indoctrinated. Rather, they need to be taught how to think for themselves.”

In June 2008, the Mount Vernon City School District Board of Education voted to suspend John Freshwater, a Christian with a 20-year teaching career at Mount Vernon Middle School, citing concerns about his conduct and teaching materials, particularly as they related to the teaching of evolution. Earlier that year, school officials reportedly ordered Freshwater, who had served as the faculty appointed facilitator, monitor, and supervisor of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes student group for 16 of the 20 years that he taught at Mount Vernon, to remove “all religious items” from his classroom, including a Ten Commandments poster displayed on the door of his classroom, posters with Bible verses, and his personal Bible which he kept on his desk. Freshwater agreed to remove all items except for his Bible. Showing their support for Freshwater, students even organized a rally in his honor. They also wore t-shirts with crosses painted on them to school and carried Bibles to class. School officials were seemingly unswayed by the outpouring of support for Freshwater. In fact, despite the fact that the Board’s own policy states that because religious traditions vary in their treatment of science, teachers should give unbiased instruction so that students may evaluate it “in accordance with their own religious tenets,” school officials suspended and eventually fired Freshwater, allegedly for criticizing evolution and using unapproved materials to facilitate classroom discussion of origins of life theories. Freshwater appealed the termination in state court, asserting that the school’s actions violated his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and constituted hostility toward religion. A Common Pleas judge upheld the School Board’s decision, as did the Fifth District Court of Appeals, without analyzing these constitutional claims. In appealing to the Ohio Supreme Court, Institute attorneys argue that the Board through its actions violated the First Amendment academic freedom rights of both Freshwater and his students.

Day of Dialogue April 19 Coming to a High School Near You


PFOX Celebrates Day of Silence

Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX) is urging students, parents, and educators to distribute ex-gay flyers on April 20 to their schools with Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) or other gay-themed student clubs.

April 20 is the annual “day of silence” when student and teacher members of homosexual clubs in schools across the country remain silent for the school day in order to bring attention to intolerance against homosexuals.

“Since members of these gay affirming clubs agree to remain silent for the day, April 20 is the time to distribute ex-gay information without interference or harassment from any gay activist faculty or GSA clubs,” said Greg Quinlan, President of PFOX.

“PFOX is calling on students to distribute flyers promoting acceptance of ex-gays. Former homosexuals and their supporters are ridiculed and forced to live in silence. Our nation’s schools deny students with unwanted same-sex attractions any support or fact-based information that feelings can and do change.”

“PFOX has distributed informative flyers in some of the largest school districts in the country,” said Quinlan. “PFOX’s one-page flyer gives students more complete information on sexual orientation and urges tolerance for all. Yet many GSA clubs have opposed our flyers even though they demand equality for gays. Equality exists when both gay and ex-gay organizations have equal access to students on the issue of sexual orientation. Gay groups should not be the only ones to have access to students on the issue of sexual orientation.”

PFOX’s flyer can be downloaded for free at

“We encourage everyone to print these flyers and distribute them at their schools on April 20 and whenever a gay event is featured in order to promote diversity and safety,” said Quinlan. “Our children deserve no less.”

Since many students are now encouraged to identify as ‘gay’ at an early age, the flyer explains that children do not have to prematurely label their entire future lives as “gay.” The flyer also discourages bullying, name calling, discrimination, and intolerance.

Various PFOX brochures and handouts about sexual orientation, gender identity, bullying, tolerance, and more can also be found at for downloading, printing and distribution.

[Passover-Easter points toward the historical realization that freedom from political oppression, addiction, immorality, sexual, and every other form of bondage is possible. The continued existence of Jews and Judaism as as well as Christians and Christianity testifies to its present reality. And, PFOX’s existence is another contemporary example of liberty celebrated in-process.]

Weighing in on Pre-Game Football Prayers at Texas High School, Rutherford Institute Advises Officials to Respect Student-Led Prayers

(El Paso, Texas) — In a letter to school officials at Bowie High School, which has come under fire recently for its tradition of having a pastor lead the football team in a pre-game prayer, John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, cautioned Bowie’s principal against ending all prayers before football games, particularly student-led prayers. As Whitehead pointed out, although the Establishment Clause limits government-sponsored religious speech, the First Amendment still fully protects student-led religious speech.

“Too often, the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment is erroneously interpreted to mean freedom from religion, rather than freedom of religion,” said attorney Whitehead. “Those who subscribe to the notion that society should be free from religion tend to use the principle of a separation of church and state as a bludgeon to eradicate religion from the public sphere. On the other side are those, like The Rutherford Institute, who believe that the First Amendment provides for freedom of religion and that the so-called ‘wall of separation between Church and State’—a term coined by Thomas Jefferson—was intended to refer to a wall placed around the church in order to protect it from any government interference with its rights to religious freedom.”

School officials at Bowie High School, which is part of the El Paso Independent School District (EPISD), recently received a threatening letter from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based organization claiming “to promote the constitutional principle of separation of state and church.” The group threatened Bowie with legal action unless the school ceases its practice of having a local pastor lead the football team in a pre-game prayer. The letter was reportedly prompted by a complaint arising over a 2010 YouTube video showing the Bowie High School football team in prayer.

Asked to weigh in on the matter by members of the community, constitutional attorney John Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute wrote a letter to Bowie High School’s principal, Dr. Jesus Chavez, explaining that while it is not easy navigating the waters between the First Amendment’s Free Speech/Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses, there are still viable options available to those who wish to exercise their First Amendment rights within the schoolhouse gates. In making his case for the legality of student-led prayers, Whitehead pointed to U. S. Supreme Court jurisprudence, as well as guidelines from the Department of Education on “Prayer in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools.” Quoting the Supreme Court’s ruling in Santa Fe Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Doe, Whitehead noted that”nothing in the Constitution prohibits any public school student from voluntarily praying at any time before, during, or after the schoolday.”

13-Year-Old Middle School Student Suspended for ‘Pranking’ Fellow Student with Oregano, Charged with Distributing Counterfeit Drug

(WAXHAW, NC) — The Rutherford Institute has come to the defense of an eighth-grade public school student who was suspended for allegedly playing a joke on a fellow student by giving him a bag of the Italian herb oregano. As a result of his prank, the 13-year-old Cuthbertson Middle School student was initially suspended for 10 days and charged with being in possession of and having the intent to distribute an “illegal drug, counterfeit or synthetic drug.” School officials with Union County Public Schools have since suspended the boy for an additional 45 days with attendance in an alternative school program. In addition to the suspension being a gross overreaction to a childish prank, Institute attorneys point out that oregano cannot properly be considered a “counterfeit or synthetic drug” under the school’s Code of Conduct or the North Carolina statute pertaining to counterfeit drugs.

“Zero-tolerance discipline cases are becoming increasingly absurd,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “Rather than responding with reason, proportionality, and compassion to childish indiscretions, schools are subjecting young people to treatment far worse than is meted out to adult defendants in the criminal justice system. It doesn’t make any sense.”

On January 20, 2012, the eighth grader in question, whose family has asked that he not be identified publicly (referred to hereafter as “B”), brought a bag containing oregano to Cuthbertson Middle School. “B” played a joke on a fellow student who had spoken to him about marijuana—the students having discussed it in health class—by giving his classmate a bag of oregano. Claiming they didn’t want other children to be in danger, school officials charged “B” with having the intent to distribute an “illegal drug, counterfeit or synthetic drug,” and initially suspended him for 10 days, later extending it to an additional 45 days. Insisting that her son had merely engaged in a schoolboy prank with no intention to harm anyone, “B’s” mother turned to The Rutherford Institute for help.

In a letter to officials with the Union County Public Schools, John W. Whitehead warned that the school’s unwarranted overreaction to the incident could be construed as a violation of “B’s” constitutional rights. Moreover, in light of the fact that oregano is not defined as a “counterfeit or synthetic drug” in accordance with the school’s Student Code of Conduct, nor does it meet the statutory definition of “counterfeit drug” as set forth in North Carolina General Stat. Ann. §106-121(4a), Institute attorneys argue that “B” cannot be subjected to long-term suspension. Pointing out that North Carolina law not only confers upon school officials the authority to issue long-term suspensions only when a student’s conduct demonstrates a willful violation of school policies, but also discourages such punishments except for serious violations that either threaten the safety of students, staff or school visitors or threaten to substantially disrupt the educational environment, Whitehead has asked that the long-term suspension be revoked immediately in favor of a reasonable response that takes “B’s” best interests into account and avoids unnecessary interference with his education.

TMLC Appeals Ninth Circuit’s Anti-God Decision to the U.S Supreme Court

ANN ARBOR, MI – The Thomas More Law Center announced today that it has appealed a controversial decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. The appeal was filed in the case of Bradley Johnson v. Poway Unified School District late last week.

For the past twenty-five years, Bradley Johnson, a high school math teacher at the Poway School District located in California had been displaying red, white and blue banners in his classroom that contained patriotic phrases such as: “In God We Trust, ” “One Nation Under God, ” and “God Bless America.”

He displayed the banners pursuant to a 30-year school district policy that permitted teachers to maintain classroom displays of non-curricular messages that reflected their personal opinions and values. In effect, the school district designated classroom walls as forum for the expression of the teacher’s private opinions and viewpoints.

However, in 2007 school officials ordered Johnson to remove his banners because they promoted a “Judeo-Christian” viewpoint.

In an outrageous case of double standard, school officials allowed other teachers to display non-Christian religious displays in their classrooms. These displays included a 40-foot string of Tibetan prayer flags with images of Buddha hung across a classroom, a poster with Hindu leader Mahatma Gandhi’s “7 Social Sins;” a poster of Muslim leader Malcolm X; a poster of the Buddhist leader Dali Lama; and a poster containing the lyrics of John Lennon’s anti-religion song “Imagine, ” which begins, Imagine there’s no Heaven.

As a result, the Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which defends the religious liberty of Christians, filed a federal lawsuit against the school district on behalf of Johnson.

On September 4, 2008, Federal District Judge Robert T. Benitez agreed with the Thomas More Law Center. He ruled that “Johnson was simply exercising his free speech rights on subjects that were otherwise permitted in the limited public forum created by Defendants” and that there was an “ongoing violation of his First Amendment free speech rights.”

However, the Poway School District appealed the ruling and a three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Judge Benitez’s decision ruling that the school district was justified in removing banners that mentioned God, while leaving untouched the Tibetan Prayer flags and the images of Buddha.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center, commented, “This case is a prime example of how public schools across our nation are cleansing our classrooms of our Christian heritage while promoting atheism and other non–Christian religions under the guise of cultural diversity.”

Continued Thompson, “The Ninth Circuit Court’s rationale in allowing the Tibetan Prayer Flags and references to other religions while outlawing America’s patriotic slogans that mention God is unconvincing. Brad Johnson was simply exercising his free speech rights in a forum created by the school district to inform students of the religious foundations of our nation.”

Attempts to get a rehearing in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals failed, and so the Law Center pursued its only remaining option– a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari (appeal) to the United States Supreme Court.