Texas Supreme Court Won't Hear Landmark Episcopal School of Dallas Case

Texas Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Landmark Case About Religious Liberty Involving the Episcopal School of Dallas

A Texas state court ruled that disciplinary actions of the Episcopal School of Dallas (ESD Dallas) are not subject to the jurisdiction of local, state, or federal governments.

The high court refused to consider John Doe v. ESD, a case involving a student expelled from school for smoking marijuana off-campus -- even though two different drug tests were negative. Episcopal School of Dallas argued that it is a faith-based school and subject to the "ecclesiastical abstention doctrine."

The unofficial doctrine maintains that secular courts should not involve themselves in cases where they might have to decide "matters of fact" in what behavior is a violation of a given religion. The lower court ruled in favor of the Episcopal School of Dallas.

"(Other private schools might) cite this ruling and claim that they are exempt from a jury’s or judge’s review of any decision relating to student life," said Janet Heimlich, founder of the Child-Friendly Faith Project (CFFP), which seeks to end religious mistreatment of children.

"There must be judicial recourse to protect students in religious schools," said Larry Friedman, attorney for the plaintiff, "from bias, prejudice, and discrimination in the classroom, as well as physical abuse, sexual harassment, and the arbitrary application of codes of conduct and disciplinary rules."

In a press release from CFFP, Friedman continued: “Decisions made in secret by faculty, staff and administrators can cause permanent harm to students’ academic records and spoil their chances of admission into a good college or graduate school,” said Friedman in a press release sent out from CFFP. “Parents must have access to the courts to counter the lack of due process."

Read full article at PeoplesNewspapers.com »