The Warren County R-III and Wright City R-II school districts will not offer the elective class approved by the Missouri state legislature during the 2023-24 academic year.
Neither Warren County school district plans to utilize a new state law that allows offering elective social studies classes on the Bible.
Gov. Mike Parson signed Senate Bill No. 34 into law July 7. The legislation allows any school district or public charter school to offer students elective social studies courses related but not limited to the Hebrew Scriptures, the New Testament of the Bible or the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament of the Bible.
“That hasn’t really come up at this point,” Warren County R-III Superintendent Dr. Gregg Klinginsmith said. “There hasn’t been the interest in it right now. It just hasn’t come up. So we would definitely entertain that if that’s something people wanted to do. We’d look into that to try to make that happen. But yeah, that’s a new law. It’s available for us as an option.”
Wright City R-II Superintendent Dr. Chris Berger does not think the legislation will have any impact on their district.
“We get these legislative updates during session weekly,” Berger said. “And that Senate Bill 34 I never would really see what progress it had because largely, we were being told it wouldn’t have any impact on us anyway. So we don’t anticipate it to have an impact moving into next fall.”
The legislation says the purpose of a course under this section is to teach students knowledge of biblical content, characters, poetry and narratives that are prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture, such as literature, art, music, mores, oratory and public policy. The purpose is also to familiarize students with the contents of the Hebrew Scriptures or New Testament, the history of the Hebrew Scriptures or New Testament, the literary style and structure of the Hebrew Scriptures or New Testament and the influence of the Hebrew Scriptures or New Testament on law, history, government, literature, art, music, customs, morals, values and culture.
A course offered under this section is to follow applicable law and all federal and state guidelines in maintaining religious neutrality and accommodating diverse religious views, traditions and perspectives of students in the school, according to the legislation. A course offered under the section may not endorse, favor or promote or disfavor or show hostility toward any particular religion or nonreligious faith or religious perspective.
In complying with this section, school districts and public charter schools may not violate any provision of the United States Constitution or federal law, the Missouri Constitution or any state law, or any administrative regulations of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education or the United States Department of Education, according to the legislation.
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