An Angels Camp school and the district it belongs to won’t change a policy addressing discussion of religion in science classes, and the family of a student who challenged the policy in December might take the matter to court.
In December, a 16-year-old sophomore at Bret Harte High School, Grayson Mobley, said he should have the right to discuss God and creationism in science class.
Backed by his parents and scores of supporters from local churches, Mobley asked the school board to change its policy that prohibits discussion of religion in science classes. His lawyer, Greg Glaser, said the family would sue if the board does not allow freedom of expression in class.
Contacted last Friday, Mike Chimente, superintendent for Bret Harte Union High School District, said the district has no plans to change the policy or put it on a school board agenda for discussion.
Glaser said Monday the Mobleys are weighing litigation options. Asked for more information, Glaser said he couldn’t discuss specifics.
“I’m not at liberty to say given that it’s litigation options,” Glaser said Wednesday in a phone interview. “As their attorney there are only so many things I’m authorized to discuss. Our hope is the school will respect the law here. If I were to comment on the Mobley family’s litigation options I’d say it would be to protect Grayson Mobley’s constitutional rights. It’s all about Grayson’s rights.”
Troy Mobley, Grayson’s father, confirmed he and his family are thinking about taking legal action against Bret Harte Union High School District.
“I’m disappointed the school chose not to change their policies,” Troy Mobley said Wednesday, calling from his family’s home in Mountain Ranch. “We’re considering litigation. I really don’t know the specifics. That’s within the realm of law.”
Asked if Grayson has been criticized by classmates or subjected to any teasing since he made his public stand in December, Troy Mobley said, no, to the contrary, Grayson has received backing from many of his peers at school.
“A couple kids had questions, and a lot of students showed support for him,” Troy Mobley said. “Some didn’t understand about his constitutional rights and wanted to know more. Some knew of the situation because they go to church and they’d talked about it with their parents, so they applauded him. What I’ve heard is he’s had zero criticism.”
Troy Mobley said he is not aware of a timetable or timeline for when legal action against the district could be initiated.
The current policy for Bret Harte Union High School District states: “Philosophical and religious theories are based, at least in part, on faith, and are not subject to scientific test and refutation. Such beliefs shall not be discussed in science classes, but may be addressed in the social science and language arts curricula.”
The policy comes from the California School Boards Association, also known as CSBA, Chimente said. The CSBA policy is identical to the state Board of Education policy on the teaching of natural sciences, which was adopted in 1989.
Back on Dec. 4, Grayson Mobley stood at a board meeting in front of about a hundred people who came to hear him challenge the district policy that prohibits discussion of religion in science classes.
“I’m here tonight to safeguard my constitutional rights,” Mobley said, reading from notes, to the five-member district board and the crowd in front of him. “Free speech is granted to all American citizens, including minors. I am an American citizen.”
Glaser said Monday the school board announced back on Jan. 8 it would not amend its policy.
Grayson Mobley, who attended 1st through 8th grades at Christian Family Learning Center in Angels Camp, is now a straight A student at Bret Harte High and he has received math and science awards, his parents and their attorney say.
Contact Guy McCarthy at email@example.com or 588-4585. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.