In Temecula on January 21, about 50 people waved American flags and held up signs in front of Helen Hunt Jackson Elementary School in a rally to support the family of a first-grade girl who was allegedly denied her right to freedom of expression during a classroom presentation.
“She started to discuss from John 3:16 and was told to sit down,” said George Rombach of Temecula. Rombach spearheaded Tuesday’s “peaceful protest” and said he is an active member of organizations such as Oath Keepers and ACT! for America.
“We have launched a bit of a legal strike against the [Temecula Valley Unified School] district,” Rombach said.
Robert H. Tyler, attorney with Advocates for Faith & Freedom, filed a formal complaint against the district on January 13 on behalf of the student, Brynn Williams, and her parents.
The letter states that on December 18, 2013, Brynn brought home an empty bag from her teacher at Helen Hunt Jackson and was to bring back an item in the bag that represented her family’s Christmas traditions. As part of the assignment, she was also supposed to give a one-minute presentation about the object.
Brynn chose the family’s Christmas-tree topper, and her father helped her write a speech. According to page two of the seven-page complaint letter, Brynn was the last child to give her presentation. The complaint states, “Brynn began by saying, “Our Christmas tradition is to put a star on top of our tree. The star is named the Star of Bethlehem. The three kings followed the star to find baby Jesus, the savior of the World. John —”
“Stop right there! Go take your seat,” the teacher allegedly said, and that was the end of Brynn’s presentation.
The demand letter alleges the teacher then told Brynn, in front of the class, that she was not allowed to talk about the Bible or share any Bible verses. It went on to state that after school Brynn told her mother, Gina Williams, that she thought she was in trouble because she had talked about Jesus.
Gina Williams contacted the school principal, and during a meeting the following day, the principal allegedly told her that the state’s education codes support the teacher’s actions.
Murrieta's mayor pro tem, Harry Ramos, was among the crowd of freedom-of-speech supporters who lined the sidewalk near 32400 Camino San Dimas for about two hours.
“Politics have no place in the classroom. It’s just a shame,” Ramos said. He also said he welcomes Brynn to give her presentation to council members at a city-council meeting.
Temecula Valley Unified School District posted a statement on its website regarding the complaint, which said, in part, that “District officials are currently investigating the allegations.”