Teen faces suspension over rosary beads

e parents of a high school student from Rockland County are demanding answers after their ninth grader was suspended for wearing rosary beads to school.

He was suspended even though the school doesn’t even have a policy banning them. So did the principal go too far? Jason Laguna is a former altar boy and proud Catholic. He got his rosary beads as a gift, thinks they look cool and sometimes wears them under his shirt at school. But last Friday, right before dismissal, he pulled them out on his way out. He was given a one-day suspension from Fieldstone Secondary School. His mother calls the punishment extreme, considering the 14-year-old is a member of student government and, according to his last report card, “is a pleasure to have in class.” Laguna says she was told the school has an unwritten policy regarding beads because they could be used to show gang affiliation. The principal claims it was insubordination, saying Laguna’s actions, “endangered the safety, health, morals or welfare of himself or others.” Jason was supposed to stay home Friday, but late Thursday the district superintendent put that on hold pending further investigation. It may not be divine intervention, but his mother has contacted the American Civil Liberties Union as she continues to fight the suspension.

abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/local&id=7272424

Gee. I don’t see what would have been wrong with a warning if they were really considered an issue.

The whole thing sounds a little strange to me. While banning the wearing of rosary beads seems extreme, the incident could probably have been avoided if the student had simply tucked the rosary beads back in when asked, and later asked for a clarification of the policy. But he didn’t.

As a religious object, rosary beads are not particularly intended to be used as apparel.

I thought Rosary beads were never to be worn so he was wrong to even be wearing them, unless the rules have changed. Other than that, he could have simply kept them under his shirt. He may be a good student but he still has to obey rules.

Where in Catholic teaching does it say that or is that just your opinion?

Where in the Constitution of the United States does it state that citizens must keep their religious symbols hidden under their shirt?

From the article:

The principal claims it was insubordination,** saying Laguna’s actions, “endangered the safety, health, morals or welfare of himself or others**.”

WOW, I didn’t realize Rosary beads where so dangerous. :eek: I don’t suppose the principal would care to explain just how the rosary beads are “endangering the safety, health, morals or welfare of himself and other?” :hmmm:

Honestly based on the quote from the principal I would have thought the kid had brought out a knife or a gun. :shrug:

It just my opinion. I doubt that there is any magisterial teaching on the matter.

Still, the rosary is in essence a prayer aid, not an apparel item.

It doesn’t particularly bother me if someone wants to wear a rosary around their neck. But this is a school. Schools (and employers for that matter) are entitled to have their own rules and their own dress codes.

So there was a disagreement. The student was asked–twice–by a teacher, to tuck the rosary back in. He did not. Students don’t get to do whatever they want in a school. There would have been opportunity to dispute the matter, by the student or by the parent, without simply defying the teacher.

I have heard that in some places gang members may use rosaries as symbols of their group. I don’t know if that is true or not. If it is true, I’d certainly want to ban the wearing of them on campus. In any case, the school is entitled to its own rules.

I’m almost as shocked that they’re going to the ACLU as I am about the actual issue. But this is kind of a ridiculous excuse by the principle. I doubt any gangs would use a rosary to show affiliation, and they’re pretty easy to recognize as well.

No, the school is NOT entitled to it’s own rules. They must respect the rules under our Constitution (if anybody knows what that is anymore) and our Constitution guarantees our freedom to practice our religion freely without interference by the government. Period.

Rosary’s are primary to aid in the praying of the rosary but since that can take up to 1% of a person’s day, what are they supposed to do afterwards? Wearing it on the neck, is that any different than say a crucifix or miraculous medal.

This is a public school and they have NO rule on this. For this teacher to tell him when he was leaving the school was wrong. This student wasn’t doing anything he wanted, but wanted to practice his faith and as a result got punished for it.

The excuse of it being gang attire is a weak one. Gangs wear shirts and pants, you wanna ban that?

As a Catholic we should support this student for couragely witnessing his Catholic faith by wearing the rosary.

There are different reasons why a Rosary would be worn and it is a shame that 99 percent of those who would put them around their neck are not trying to make a statement of faith or keep them handy to pray the rosary. Where the child lives most likely wearing a rosary outside the clothing designates belonging to a gang. I seriously doubt the child would have been suspended if he wore a crucifix around his neck.

Ken

The Constitution says nothing about the wearing of rosaries. Every school has a detailed set of rules. Students are expected to follow them. The school in this case did NOT have a rule about rosary wearing. Nevertheless, the student kept the rosary tucked into his shirt all day long, only taking it out at the end of the day. Apparently he had no deep seated religious reason preventing him from wearing it under his shirt. Why is it so hard to just do what a teacher asks, and complain later? Must everything be a Constitutional issue?

He’s going to have to live with rules he doesn’t like all his life. Might as well get used to it.

The Constitution doesn’t have to say ANYTHING about the wearing of rosaries. Don’t be so ridiculous as to think it would. By protecting religious liberties, commonsense would include this. Schools have to comply with the laws and liberties of the land, if not we don’t have a civilized society. If there were no rules regarding the wearing of rosaries, then legally the school was wrong for punishing students with non-existent laws. In order to get suspended, the student has to do something wrong. Imagine any one of us getting charged for a non-existent law.

Some gangs are known to use colored rosary beads as an indication of membership. This is not a new trend. In fact, a case just like this one ended up in court in Texas in the mid-90s. The issue is not how rosary beads are endangering students; it’s how wearing and revealing a known gang symbol can endanger the students and it certainly can should an armed member of a rival gang happen to be passing by. Given the fact that colored rosary beads are affiliated with gangs; I think it’s perfectly reasonable that the school require it to be kept underneath clothing.

The student’s free exercise of religion is not being endangered. Since the rule was not written, the teacher may have overreacted in this case, but not knowing the situation of the school, I don’t know that for sure.

It would be much simpler, and better educationally, if the school simply had a mandatory school uniform for everybody.

LOL, that really would eliminate a lot of this. :smiley:

So are certain colors, should we tell children they can’t wear certain colors just because a gang likes to be associated with that color? From what the mother said gangs are not even an issue in that school. If that’s the case then why did the principal say what he did?

For me what is really telling is the fact that the superintendent stepped in and over ruled the principal’s suspension. If it really was that cut and dry the superintendent wouldn’t have done that.

I didn’t read that. Do you have a source?

It’s at the bottom of the article.

HAVERSTRAW (WABC) – The parents of a high school student from Rockland County are demanding answers after their ninth grader was suspended for wearing rosary beads to school.

He was suspended even though the school doesn’t even have a policy banning them. So did the principal go too far? Jason Laguna is a former altar boy and proud Catholic. He got his rosary beads as a gift, thinks they look cool and sometimes wears them under his shirt at school. But last Friday, right before dismissal, he pulled them out on his way out. He was given a one-day suspension from Fieldstone Secondary School. His mother calls the punishment extreme, considering the 14-year-old is a member of student government and, according to his last report card, “is a pleasure to have in class.” Laguna says she was told the school has an unwritten policy regarding beads because they could be used to show gang affiliation. The principal claims it was insubordination, saying Laguna’s actions, “endangered the safety, health, morals or welfare of himself or others.” **Jason was supposed to stay home Friday, but late Thursday the district superintendent put that on hold pending further investigation. **It may not be divine intervention, but his mother has contacted the American Civil Liberties Union as she continues to fight the suspension.

His one day suspension was supposed to be Friday but the superintendent intervened. Because of the superintendent the boy went to school Friday. Like I said if what the principal did was on the up and up the superintendent wouldn’t have done this. He would have let the suspension stand.

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