Thursday, May 10, 2007

Student, school district reach settlement over proselytizing

The saga of Kearny high school student Matthew LaClair is over for now.

The Kearny Board of Education in New Jersey and the parents of Matthew LaClair, a 17-year-old junior at Kearny High School, settled their dispute on Tuesday night about a teacher who proselytized in class.

The settlement will include training for teachers and students about the separation of church and state and a public statement by the board praising Matthew for bringing the matter to its attention.

The training was already in the works, so mostly what happened here is the district agreed to recognize Matthew's actions as proper, not troublemaking. Which you'd think would be obvious, but bureaucracies act in reflexively self-protective ways sometimes.

So another educational kerfuffle appears to be over. Or is it? There is at least one loose end still hanging:

The settlement does not address the status of Mr. Paszkiewicz, 39, who has remained a history teacher at the high school. Mr. Paszkiewicz, who is also a Baptist youth pastor, had his classes switched in the middle of the school year so as not to have Matthew as a student.

Paszkiewicz's lawyer, commenting on the settlement, said, "there are people who think my client is the victim." In addition, it's not clear if the school's "no recording" rule remains in effect. So perhaps there's another chapter or two yet to come. But for now, common sense has prevailed.

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