Liberty Institute sends demand letter to Somerset Academy seeking apology and restoration of 12-year-old client’s constitutional right to freely express her faith in school assignments.
This week, Liberty Institute sent a demand letter to school officials at Somerset Academy, a public charter school in Las Vegas, Nevada, after 12-year-old Mackenzie Fraiser was denied the right to include a Bible verse in a class assignment called “All About Me.”
In February 2015, Mackenzie, who is in sixth grade, was assigned to compose a PowerPoint presentation called “All About Me.” This presentation was to include a slide with an “inspirational saying” that explained more about who she is as a person. Since Mackenzie’s Christian faith is a central aspect of who she is, Mackenzie wanted to include a Bible verse—John 3:16—as the inspirational saying in her project.
However, the teacher informed the class that they could not use “Bible verses or quotations from the Book of Mormon” on the “inspirational sayings” slide, so Mackenzie was forced to choose a nonreligious saying.
A few months later, in May, the class was assigned a project on self-esteem. When Mackenzie contemplated explaining that her self-esteem is rooted in being created in the image of God, Mackenzie grew nervous. She told her parents that her teacher had said students are not allowed to include Bible verses in their assignments, so she thought it was wrong—or even illegal—to talk about her faith in an assignment.