Bueker Middle School dismisses claim that 12-year-old student was told to stop reading his Bible

(Photo: Dave Edmonds)

A Missouri middle school has dismissed claims that a 12-year-old student had been barred from reading his Bible in school.

Loyal Grandstaff said that he had taken out his Bible to read during classroom free time, but was allegedly told by his teacher to put it away.

However, Principle of Bueker Middle School Lance Tobin told the Christian Post yesterday that after the school investigated the matter they realised the claim was false.

"The incident was never validated," Tobin said, adding that the story had originally emerged in local media. "Fox 4 News ran the report before we had the chance to look into the incident ourselves."

On Monday Grandstaff told WDAF-TV: "I like to read my Bible because it's a good book.

"I was just reading because I had free time. A time to do what I wanted to, so I just broke it out and read."

Grandstaff, a seventh-grader at Bueker Middle School in Marshall, said that his teacher told him the Bible was not permitted in school, and to put it away. The boy's father, Justin, said the objection was ridiculous.

"There's kids walking around disrespecting their teachers, kids walking around cussing and everything else, and they're practically getting into no trouble at all," he said. "I feel like it violated his freedom of religion but also his freedom of speech."

Loyal said that the teacher "doesn't want me reading it in his class because he don't believe it."

Bueker Principal Lance Tobin had already said earlier this week that Bibles were not banned from the school.

The law has traditionally been on the side of the students in these cases, as long as the Bible is not being read during a time that the child should be participating in classroom instruction.

In May, the Liberty Institute was victorious in their conflict with Florida's Broward County Public School over a student's right to read the Bible in the classroom.

The controversy began when Park Lakes Elementary School fifth-grader Giovanni Rubeo refused to put his Bible away during free reading time. 

Rubeo's father, Paul, had instructed his son that if his teacher or anyone else at the school told him he couldn't read his Bible during the 90-minute free reading period, Giovanni should politely ask that they call his father. 

Rubeo's teacher, Swornia Thomas, called Paul and left him a voicemail message. 

"Giovanni called you because I asked him to," she said on the recording. "I noticed that he has a book-- a religious book-- in the classroom. He is not permitted to read those books in my classroom. 

"He said, if I told him to put it away, you said not to do that. So, please give me a call. I need to have some understanding on direction to him about the book he is reading as opposed to the curriculum for public school."

Liberty Institute Director of Litigation Hiram Sasser was appalled by the recording. 

"This is the most shocking piece of evidence I've seen in the 12 years of religious liberty work that I've been doing," he told Fox News.

The district apologised for the incident, and clarified that students are allowed to read the Bible during free reading time.