Attorney General Ken Paxton today intervened into a lawsuit filed on behalf of nurse’s aide Dedra Shannon against the Killeen Independent School District (KISD) over its decision to take down Ms. Shannon’s Christmas decoration.
The principal of KISD’s Patterson Middle School ordered Ms. Shannon to take down a handmade decoration that depicted a scene from the classic holiday tale “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” In the scene, the character of Linus is asked by Charlie Brown whether there is “anyone who knows what Christmas is all about.” Ms. Shannon’s decoration quoted part of Linus’s response: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord…That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
KISD ordered Ms. Shannon to take down her decoration, claiming that it violated the law. And at its meeting Tuesday night, Killeen ISD school board members voted 6-1 in favor of censoring Shannon’s Charlie Brown Christmas decoration. As today’s intervention explains in detail, the inclusion of Bible verses or religious messages on student or teacher-sponsored holiday decorations does not violate any law.
“Once again, public schools have decided that their commitment to diversity does not extend to Christians,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Neither faculty nor students shed their constitutional rights when they step inside the schoolhouse door. The law in fact encourages school districts to take an inclusive approach to religious and secular celebrations that are both respectful and accepting of different viewpoints. Killeen ISD made a clear legal error when it decided it had to censor staff member Dedra Shannon’s Christmas decoration simply because it incorporated some religious terminology.”