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Florida student told no Bible reading during free time

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A 12-year-old Florida student is in trouble for reading his Bible in school, during a period designated as “free reading time,” where students are permitted to choose their own reading material. The teacher’s method of dealing with this issue has started something of a war between the student’s father and the school district, according to Myfoxphilly on May 6.

Giovanni Rubeo received a Bible from his family’s church. He enjoys reading it. He brings it to school with him, but does not read it during class time. He has been reading it, however, during the “free reading time” period where students can choose their own reading material.

Things came to a head recently when his teacher asked him what he was reading during “free reading time” and he answered truthfully. She then ordered him to the front of the classroom and told him to use the phone on her desk to call his parents as the whole class looked on.

Giovanni’s parents were not home. The teacher left this message for them:

“Good morning, Mr. Rubeo,” says a woman. “Giovanni called you because I asked him to. I noticed that he had a book, a religious book, in the classroom. He’s 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’s reading opposed to the curriculum for public school. Ms. S. Thomas. Thank you. Have a wonderful day. Bye, bye.”

Paul Rubeo, Giovanni’s dad, is not happy about this situation. He feels his son’s constitutional rights are being violated because his son is only reading the Bible during “free reading time.” He also feels the teacher humiliated his son in front of the class.

He wrote to the school stating, “This it to give you written notice to stop breaking the law & violating my son Giovanni Rubeo’s constitutional first amendment right of free speech and religious expression. Do NOT tell my son he cannot read his Bible during free reading hours during class or any time when students are allowed to read books of their choice.”

Paul Rubeo hired Liberty Institute as legal counsel. When they contacted the school, they received the following response: "Your child is permitted to read the Bible before school, after school and during lunch, in accordance to the law.”

The Broward County School District now claims it was told that Giovanni Rubeo was not only reading the Bible during “free reading time,” but reading the Bible when an assigned book was to be read. Paul and Giovanni Rubeo deny this. The District further stated that any student may read the Bible or any other religious book during free time.

Paul Rubeo is looking for an apology from the school district and from the teacher.

Quote Source: CBS4 Miami

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