WEAVERVILLE, N.C. — A Buncombe County mother was unhappy when her son came home from his fifth-grade class at North Windy Ridge intermediate school with a Bible. The state's largest civil liberties group says the school overstepped its bounds.
Ginger Strivelli says her son came home from North Windy Ridge school in Weaverville on Monday with a Bible he got from a box left by the Gideons International group. Strivelli, a pagan, doesn't think the school should offer any religious material to students.
"It's totally inappropriate they think they can get away with this," she said. "It's absolutely unbelievable and their attitude is ridiculous."
School officials contend they did nothing wrong. Principal Jackie Byerly said she got approval from the superintendent after the Gideons asked to leave Bibles at the school.
Students weren't required to take Bibles, county schools spokeswoman Jan Blunt said. They were told by teachers that the books were available in a box in the main office.
"They don't talk with students," Blunt said, referring to the Gideons. "They're not allowed to make a presentation. They quite literally drop off a box and leave them there. They are not handed out at all."
That would be fine at a high school, according to Katy Parker, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation.
Parker said Tuesday that a 1998 federal court decision in a West Virginia case called Peck vs. Upshur County Board of Education determined that religious literature can be left for high school students, but not at elementary schools.