The Scranton School District recently entered into a lease agreement with the Scranton Diocese stipulating that school activity not violate Church teaching.
Sarah Hofius Hall, writing for the Scranton-based The Times-Tribune, reports that on Monday — March 10, 2014 — members of the Scranton School District school board unanimously voted to approve a $3000/month lease agreement allowing the district to use property owned by the Diocese of Scranton to potentially house elementary school students. Further, a portion of the lease stipulates the school district must refrain from “any activity that violates any teachings or policies which in any way is contrary to the teachings of the Roman Catholic faith and the Diocese of Scranton.”
Taxpayers from the Scranton area — through this lease agreement — are compelled to fund the Diocese of Scranton because their tax monies go to the Scranton school district. Worse yet, the lease agreement gives the Diocese of Scranton veto power not only over classroom content, but also over extra-curricular activities taking place at the school district, content presented at school assemblies, conduct of students, and all school policies; anything deemed “contrary to the teachings of the Roman Catholic faith and the Diocese of Scranton” by Diocese of Scranton officials may not be permitted within the building leased by the Scranton School District and owned by the Diocese of Scranton.
The Scranton School District should not be entering into financial agreements with the Diocese of Scranton. In doing so, the consciences of taxpayers — Christians, Jews, Muslims, people of no faith, and people of diverse religious backgrounds — are violated and children are subject to the whims of the Diocese of Scranton.
Section three of Pennsylvania’s state constitution states, “All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences; no man can of right be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship or to maintain any ministry against his consent; no human authority can, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience, and no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious establishments or modes of worship.” This should be respected; Scranton area taxpayers should not be supporting the Diocese of Scranton through the lease agreement unanimously approved by the Scranton School District’s school board.
Scranton’s school district must reconsider their lease agreement with the Diocese of Scranton and terminate their agreement immediately. The separation of church and state should be preserved; no taxpayer should be compelled to fund a religious body and no public school district should allow a religious body to have control over a public school’s district’s decisions.
Join me in contacting administration and/or Board of Education members within the Scranton School District:
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Kathleen McGuigan – President ~ email@example.com
Mark McAndrew – Vice President ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Casey ~ email@example.com
Kyle Donahue ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
Cy Douaihy ~ email@example.com
Armand Martinelli ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
Carol Oleski ~ email@example.com
Dr. Lyn Ruane ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Sheridan ~ email@example.com
Superintendent of Schools – William F. King – 570-348-3465 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Supervisor of Elementary Education – Jessica Leitzel – 570-348-3429 – email@example.com
Curriculum Director – Chris Mazzino – 570-348-3432 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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I oppose the recent lease agreement the Scranton School District signed with The Diocese of Scranton. The lease agreement is problematic because — through it — taxpayer monies and funds belonging to the Scranton School District will be transferred to the Diocese of Scranton; taxpayers, against their will, have their consciences violated in supporting a religious body – violating section three of the Pennsylvania State Constitution which states “no man can of right be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship or to maintain ministry against his consent; no human authority can in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience, and no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious establishments or modes of worship.”
The recent lease agreement is additionally problematic because, through its clause not allowing the school district to engage in activity “that violates any teachings or policies which in any way is contrary to the teachings of the Roman Catholic faith and the Diocese of Scranton” the Diocese of Scranton has veto power over classroom content, extracurricular activities, school assemblies, conduct of students, and district policies.
The Scranton School District should immediately end its lease agreement with the Diocese of Scranton and, in the future, refrain from entering into agreements financially supporting religious bodies and/or giving authoritative power to religious entities. Parents and students within the Scranton area are of diverse religious faiths and no religious backgrounds. The separation of church and state should be preserved. Individuals may freely support the Diocese of Scranton, but should not be compelled to do so through taxpayer funds. Individuals may live in accordance with guidelines set by the Diocese of Scranton, but should not be compelled to do so through authoritative power over a school district.