Sunday, December 16, 2012

Teacher Reprimanded for Bible Gift at NJ School

Click here to view WFMZ-TV69 local news report
The Phillipsburg School District board is contemplating the retribution for substitute teacher Walter Tutka responding to an out-of-classroom question by a student about a Bible verse by giving the student a Bible.  Local citizens have flooded the school board with support for Tutka's reasoned and caring conduct.

For background, click on headlines below to read related articles:

New Jersey Teacher Investigated for Christian Beliefs

Ohio Admits Wrong Against Christian Teacher with Bible

Teachers Forbidden Private Christian Lives

Teacher Suspended for Christian Beliefs at Home

Christians of Faith Shouldn't be on School Boards

ACLU Warns of Christianity in South Carolina Schools

Illegal Christianity 'Rampant' in Georgia Schools

Atheists Threaten to Sue Every School in Mississippi

UPDATE 1/12/13: School Sides with Atheists vs. Christian Teacher

UPDATE 1/14/13: School Board fires teacher Walter Tutka

UPDATE 4/11/13: Walter Tutka files complaint with Obama's EEOC for religious discrimination (video):

-- From "Phillipsburg substitute teacher may face suspension, superintendent states in letter" by David Foster, The Express-Times (Lehigh Valley 12/10/12

Walter Tutka, of Belvidere, received a letter -- obtained by The Express-Times -- from Phillipsburg Superintendent George Chando last week recommending a 90-day suspension for allegedly giving a student his personal copy of the New Testament during lunch on Oct. 12 at the middle school. The suspension would be effective Oct. 15 2012 until Jan 15, 2013, according to the letter.

The letter states Tutka broke two district polices. One prohibits staff from distributing religious literature on school grounds. The other states if religious material is discussed that staff “be neutral in their approach and avoid using them to advance or inhibit religion in any way.”

The incident began at the beginning of the school year when Tutka, while holding the door for students, told the last student, “Just remember the first will be last and the last will be first.”

Tutka said at last month’s school board meeting that the student had approached him seven different times about the Bible passage when he subbed in the district, until he finally gave the student his Bible. He doesn't know who notified the district, but the Bible was returned to him following the incident.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "School Board Absurdity? N.J. teacher gives student a Bible, now faces suspension" by Bob Holt, 12/14/12

People spoke out for Tutka at a recent school board meeting, saying that the Bible was a gift for the student, and the teacher had remained neutral. Four speakers read a statement noting that school libraries contain more than 100 books about religion including, "Bible Stories for Pleasure Reading," "A Biblical Garden," "The Story of Christmas," and "Chicken Soup for the Christian Teenage Soul.”

[Supt.] Chando has confirmed that the Bible is carried in district libraries.

Speaking about how his case might be decided, Tutka said, according to WFMZ-TV, "I think it's going to turn out to be on the positive end. After all, it is Christmas."

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "New Jersey Substitute Teacher Faces Suspension for Giving Middle School Student His Bible" by Heather Clark, Christian News Network 12/12/12

During the public comment period [at the school board meeting], four area residents read a prepared statement that outlined why they believed Tutka had done no wrong. . . . Wayne Duryea, one of the commenters, added that the district isn’t necessarily neutral in its actions toward religion either.

“He was about as neutral as the district giving a young Muslim student in the high school the ability to change his schedule so he can come to school on a Friday, stay until noon so he is not marked as missing the day … and then being released so his parents can drive the hour and a half it takes them to reach their mosque so they can fulfill their Friday worship obligations,” Duryea said.

School board president Kevin DeGerolamo told reporters last night after the meeting that “it’s possible” that Tutka will still face disciplinary action even though the vote did not go forward as scheduled. The next board meeting is set for January 7th

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Phillipsburg School Board tables plan to remove teacher from sub list for referencing Bible" by Emily Thiel, WFMZ-TV69 (Western New Jersey) 11/21/12

"We know as a teacher that you are never to cross that line about talking about the Bible in school," said school board member Rosemarie Person, who is a teacher herself. Person stated she was required to attend a workshop on how to not make statements that would get her into trouble as an unbiased educator.

"You can tell them where to go reference that quote that you gave without handing them the tool itself," suggested board president Kevin J. DeGerolamo, who disapproved of Tutka's approach.

Tutka, who is a retiree of an electric company, has been substituting since January in seven different schools. Out of 80 days substituting last year, Tutka stated 49 days were in the Phillipsburg district and this year, out of 30 days, 28 had been in Phillipsburg so far this year.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.