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| Article Specs|
Article ID: 3386
Age Group: Adult
Posted: April 14th. 2001
Carol Snyder is Featured Speaker at A.U.
by Darragh Nagle
Mrs. Carol Snyder is the member of the Citrus Board of Education who became the center of a religious controversy over what religious activities are appropriate for public school students at the public school, and the diversity of prayer invocations at the board meetings. She was the speaker today before a meeting of the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Sun Coast Chapter, at the Tarpon Springs public library.
Mrs. Snyder described how she ran successfully for Member of the School Board in November 2000, and after being elected she attended her first meeting on November 14th. During that meeting she suggested that the public be allowed to speak during the meetings, where they might have valuable input on the business at hand, rather than limiting public comment to a period at the beginning of the meeting. She also suggested that public comment be allowed before and after the meeting, that the meeting should have and agenda, and, that the invocation prayers that were addressed to "Jesus Christ" might be more appropriate if they were addressed to "God Almighty." Mrs. Snyder describes herself as a Christian, but is quick to point out that it should not matter what a person's beliefs are in the context of school board meetings.
She spoke about a complaint that she received from a parent who was concerned about what had happened to his daughter at a "pizza party" held at a local school. During her investigation of this event, she asked if there was a video tape made, and eventually the superintendent called her and said that he had a tape, and that she could view it in his office. She watched the tape and said that the first 30 minutes were a typical pizza party, and then a man began walking among the children, carrying a Bible, and telling the children to be quiet. As she watched the video, the superintendent came by, and she asked him to watch it with her. He did so. The man in the video then related the story of the prodigal son, and told the children that they needed to "come home to father." He then had a student from his church group testify before the other students. He then called for the children who had come home to the father to stand up. He then instructed all of his church group students to stand up. Then he told the students who had not stood up, that "You all need to come home to the father, and stand up for Jesus, and we have people here who will help you." At this point, the video tape ended, and the names of the children were displayed, making it an official school record.
Mrs. Snyder asked the superintendent if he saw anything wrong with the video, and he replied that he did not. She told him that she did, and explained her concerns to him.
The controversy culminated in a public School board meeting at Forrest Ridge school, where large numbers of the FCA, (Fedration of Christian Athletes), attended the meeting and spoke in favor of continuing the organization's involvement in the school.
At today's meeting of the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, she noted that there have never been any invocations at the privately held school board meetings she attended concerning the expulsion of students. To protect the privacy of the students, these meetings are legally held in private. It seems interesting to her that the prayer which is purported to be necessary for guidance and wisdom when making decisions that effect people's lives, is dispensed with during the private expulsion meetings, which can effect lives in a most dramatic way.
A little progress has been made in the publicly held meetings, with two of the board members now offering invocations to "Almighty God". However her turn in the rotation to offer the invocation has mysteriously not occurred yet.
Mrs. Synder encourages everyone to make their opinions known to the school board.
The address of the Citrus School Board is:
Citrus Board of Education
4007 Main Street
Inverness, FL 34450
The School Board meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month, at 4pm.
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