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Tucson Atheists Message Board › Vail Unified School District is sponsoring a religious family conference

Vail Unified School District is sponsoring a religious family conference

A former member
Post #: 5
My name is Valary Ritchie and I have a a 3 year old daughter that just started attending Vail Inclusive Preschool in the Vail Unified School District. I received a flyer put in my daughter's backpack announcing
VUSD Family Conference 2013. It is not only sponsored by the Vail School District but it is sponsored by four local Tucson churches and is being held at Vail Theater of the Arts. Please see this link http://www.vail.k12.a...­ It would be really great if I could talk to someone about this and perhaps help me devise a game plan. This is blatant State sponsored religion. I can't stand by and not have my voice heard. I would love to hear any advice you could give me.
Thank you, Valary
Don L.
AZAtheist
Group Organizer
Tucson, AZ
Post #: 272
Valary, Thank you for bringing this up. I'm out of town for the next couple of days but I'll be back this weekend and plan on looking into this further.

Don
Nora M.
onemiller
Tucson, AZ
Post #: 34
Valary, you might want to contact Serah Blaine, the director of the Secular Coalition of Arizona. You can send her a message from the organization's Facebook page here: https://www.facebook....­. If she can't help you, she will know who can. Contact her today!

And let us know how things go!

Nora
Don L.
AZAtheist
Group Organizer
Tucson, AZ
Post #: 273
Nora,

Actually, this is not within the purview of the Secular Coalition's mission. They are a coalition that is dedicated to the advocacy of secular concerns to the legislature. American Atheists, Freedom from Religion Foundation, and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State are more concerned with these church and state violations.

Donald Lacey
Arizona State Director of American Atheists AND
Treasurer of Secular Coalition for Arizona
Nora M.
onemiller
Tucson, AZ
Post #: 35
Thanks for pointing that out. I know Serah has made a lot of connections. Perhaps she has names at those organizations that Valary could contact for guidance. The personal connection generally helps get a response better than a generic website inquiry.
A former member
Post #: 6
Thanks Don and Nora. I have contacted Freedom From Religion Foundation. They responded quickly and told me to file a complaint with them. They have now turned my case over to one of their attorneys. As you probably know they have a small legal staff that is very busy with Church/State separation complaints. I will see how it goes.
I really would like to do more. When my son was in middle school in VUSD at Civano Middle School (which doesn't exist any longer) the middle school teachers tried to introduce Transcendental Meditation. I saw the flyer called Superintendent Calvin Baker and he spoke to me immediately. He had the whole thing taken care of within an hour of my calling him. I fear that this Family Conference sponsored by four local churches and the VUSD is a whole different ball of wax. I still need to have my voice heard. I see a serious need for an organization that holds Arizona school districts accountable on church/state issues. Who's in?
Jeff G.
user 64220452
Tucson, AZ
Post #: 10
Since I am a property owner and taxpayer in the Vail School district, I have an interest in this matter. On week ends, the school district makes some of its property available to religious congregations for services in the neighborhood where my house is located. While that relationship may be legal, it has concerned me in the past.

I have had a look at the web page for the Vail Family Conference, which is hosted on the Vail School District web site. There is no ambiguity. The event is plainly labeled as the Vail Unified School District Family Conference held in collaboration with local churches. The school district has lead responsibility.

The same page also announces voluntary child care during the conference, provided by two churches. The announcement states that the care will include religious instruction. That appears to me to be an endorsement by the School District of child care with religious instruction, to be delivered on district property at an event the district sponsors. The announcement gives the location of the conference and the child care as the Vail Theater of the Arts, a school district property.

The announcement does not say how the two speakers at this event are being paid. But it indicate that these two people have also been giving similar talks to the students of the school district. So far as I can tell, either the School District has accepted outside financing for this event or it is being paid for by school district, with tax funds. The web site of Pam and Bill Farrell plainly states that they provide Christian religious oriented motivational talks. http://www.love-wise....­

That leads me to the conclusion that the school district may be using public tax funds to support what appears to be Christian religious indoctrination by speakers with a long history of being affiliated with churches.

As a school district tax payer, I would like to know more about Vail school district's involvement with these speakers, how this event is being financed and the legality of conducting religious instruction on district property at an event sponsored by the district.






Valary, Thank you for bringing this up. I'm out of town for the next couple of days but I'll be back this weekend and plan on looking into this further.

Don

Jeff G.
user 64220452
Tucson, AZ
Post #: 11
Valary, see my concerns for this issue in my previous message. I have also sent that message to the Freedom From Religion Foundation in support of your report. I suggest that other concerned property owners in the Vail district contact them here: http://ffrf.org/legal...­. They need to know that others within the District are also concerned and want to know what the legality is in this case.

While I understand your concern and share it, I don't think that attempting to create a separate organization to deal with the issue in Arizona is a good idea. The plain fact is that creating, organizing, running and recruiting members for a narrow focus organization needs a huge time and resource dedication. Splinter groups have a sad history of disappearing pdq.

Fortunately the Tucson area and Arizona already has established, active organizations in this area, as Don said. Those of us who have property in the Vail School District and pay taxes to support it would be more effective by advocating inside the existing groups. And by working with the national Freedom From Religion Foundation by contributing local information and funds dedicated to supporting their inquiry into the legality of the religious involvement that the Vail School District may be slipping into. I offer my support for that.



SNIP I fear that this Family Conference sponsored by four local churches and the VUSD is a whole different ball of wax. I still need to have my voice heard. I see a serious need for an organization that holds Arizona school districts accountable on church/state issues. Who's in?

A former member
Post #: 7
Jeff, you make a lot of good points. You too should call and write the Vail School District. Thank you for filing a complaint with FFRF as well. I will be calling the district office on Monday and sending and email. If all of us in the Vail School District complained we could bring some pressure on the powers that be.
Jeff G.
user 64220452
Tucson, AZ
Post #: 12
When I posted here, I had in mind that this is a public web site. This is public business.

Since it is a rather high level policy matter, my thought was that sending a respectful but specific e-mail message to each member of the Vail District board inquiring about this issue would be more effective. Their names and e-mail addresses are on the District web site. They would most probably refer it to the superintendent, and that would be good because he answers directly to them.

As you are a parent of children in Vail District schools, I agree that you contacting the District office on Monday would be effective. Don will return after this week end. He is very effective at dealing on a personal level with officials about such issues. I am not in Tucson at the moment, but my interest is there.

Aside from you, me and Don, I personally don't know of any other members of Tucson Atheists who live in the Vail school district. But with the extended boundaries of the district there is a good chance that there are others. Knowing my fellow retirees from academia, I would suspect that there are some living in the "Academic Village" neighborhood near Vail who would be interested in this issue if they knew about it.

Jeff, you make a lot of good points. You too should call and write the Vail School District. Thank you for filing a complaint with FFRF as well. I will be calling the district office on Monday and sending and email. If all of us in the Vail School District complained we could bring some pressure on the powers that be.

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