Girl, 9, claims substitute teacher refused to let her read Bible in class

LANCASTER, Ohio (WCMH) – When Brionna Palmer came home from school Wednesday, her mother Audra said the third-grader was in tears.

“She said, ‘Mommy, the teacher made me put my Bible away.’ And I said, ‘What do you mean she made you put your Bible away?’” Audra Palmer said.

Brionna, 9, told her parents there was a substitute teacher in her class at Gorsuch West Elementary School. After finishing an assignment, she said she took out her Bible to read independently.

“The teacher come through and she was inspecting everybody’s books, and she said to put your book away and get out a different book,” Palmer said, recounting what her daughter told her.

Palmer’s oldest child was in tears and upset by what happened.

“[I] reassured her that it was OK, she had done nothing wrong, that it was right, it was OK for her to read her Bible and that she shouldn’t be ashamed to do so,” Palmer said.

Palmer said she called the principal to discuss what happened on Wednesday. On Thursday, she said she and her husband Jacob went to the school to speak to the principal and Brionna’s regular teacher.

While Brionna told her parents the incident happened during independent reading time, the superintendent of the district said via phone and in a statement that it happened during a lesson.

In the statement, he wrote:

At Gorsuch West Elementary on Wednesday, May 4, 2016, a misunderstanding occurred in a third grade classroom. A substitute teacher was reading to the class as a student was reading independently. The student was asked to put her book away while the lesson was going on. The book happened to be the Bible. The substitute had no problem with the young lady reading the Bible earlier in the day during free reading time.”

Palmer said her daughter has never had a problem with her regular teachers when she reads the Bible at school.

“We always teach all of our children we are firm believers in the Bible, in our faith, and we are not ashamed of that,” Palmer said.

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