Christianity meeting at JCPS raises questions, concerns

Some local principals talked about subject, drawing fire

Written by Antoinette Konz The Courier-Journal

A religious-based organization that leased space from Jefferson County Public Schools to hold a meeting last week that featured district principals talking about bringing Christianity into the classroom has raised concerns from community members, including a Jewish group.

JCPS administrators say the group was within its rights to host the meeting, but they subsequently emailed the district’s principals to remind them of policy on school prayer and incorporating religion into curriculum.

The Louisville Area Christian Educator Support, or LACES, leased meeting space at Durrett Auditorium at the Gheens Academy on Thursday for a kickoff event designed to “encourage Christian educators, provide information about religious rights, instructional strategies and support.”

The event featured retired Southeast Christian Church Senior Minister Bob Russell and was organized in part by retired JCPS administrator Joe Burks and Bryce Hibbard, the principal at Southern High School. Approximately 100 people attended.

According to media reports from the event, Hibbard told the crowd that many teachers don’t know that they’re allowed to teach creationism in science class, which prompted concerns over whether teachers are trying to evangelize students. Neither Burks nor Hibbard could be reached for comment Tuesday.

The meeting’s contents prompted Jewish community leaders to speak out.

“Anytime an organization wants to bring a particular religious teaching or set of values into public schools, it’s very concerning for us,” Matt Goldberg, community relations director for the Jewish Community of Louisville, said Tuesday.

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