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Omaha elementary faces another religious expression conflict

May 30, 2019

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — An Omaha elementary school where a principal stepped down after facing pushback for banning Christmas symbols is now confronting another religious expression issue over its yearbook.

Manchester Elementary School recently printed its yearbook with cover art featuring words of virtue and inspiration, including “faith.” The words were arranged in the shape of a cross, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

Leaders of the school’s parent-teacher organization, which is responsible for producing the yearbook, learned of the Christian symbol on the cover after the books were printed, said Kara Perchal, spokeswoman for Elkhorn Public Schools.

Fifth-grade students voted on the cover art, but it’s unclear who designed the cover or who approved its printing.

PTO leaders later reprinted the books without the cross, which were distributed to families last Friday, Perchal said. The former version was never distributed to students.

The issue comes after a conservative Christian group threatened legal action over a decision by the school’s former principal, Jennifer Sinclair, to ban Christmas and holiday symbols last winter.

Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit that promotes and defends what it believes are evangelical Christian values, accused the Elkhorn district of being hostile to Christians. The group has gained a reputation for opposing gay rights, and the Southern Poverty Law Center labeled the nonprofit as an anti-gay hate group for spreading false information.

After the group threatened filing a lawsuit, Sinclair was placed on administrative leave for violating district rules that allow Christmas trees, Santa and other seasonal symbols to be displayed as teaching aids. Sinclair eventually left her role as principal.

Perchal said yearbook covers are typically approved by principals in the winter, but Sinclair’s leave disrupted the normal approval process.

Andrea Abrahamson, the PTO’s president, said board members “voted unanimously to reprint the cover as it was not sensitive to our all-student agenda.”


Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com

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