An elementary school principal and a secretary were placed on paid administrative leave after reportedly praying for a student inside of a classroom last Tuesday, according to at least two local news reports.
The two school staffers at George J. Mcintosh Elementary in Newport News, Virginia, are accused of taking a first-grade (one report says kindergarten) student with apparent behavioral issues into a classroom, placing holy water on his or her forehead and then praying for the pupil, WAVY-TV reported.
Another article reported by WTKR-TV stated that it was the secretary who allegedly prayed over the student amid behavioral issues. The prayer is said to have unfolded inside the classroom after the teacher and other pupils were asked to leave.
The principal, according to that report, was in the room during the prayer, though it is unclear if the school leader participated.
What’s perhaps most interesting about the resulting investigation into the matter is that the child’s parent was reportedly okay with what was happening and did not complain; it was another individual inside the school who later voiced concerns.
According to WAVY-TV, officials will meet this week to weigh potential discipline for those involved.
There are many details of the story that have not yet been covered in media, but at least one well-known atheist is already speaking out about the case. Friendly Atheist blogger Hemant Mehta agreed that more specific details are in short supply, though he wrote the following about the allegations:
Again, we don’t know any more details… but are there any details that would somehow make everything okay? This is a school that seems to be run like a church, and even if a parent wanted the administrators to use holy water on a child, that doesn’t mean they’re supposed to go along with it.
How often do they use these religious punishments? Are other students subject to them? Will this District punish these two staffers the same way they would if they weren’t Christians? Because imagine the national outcry if they performed some sort of Satanic ritual on the kid instead.
We’ll have to wait and see what happens next.
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