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RELEASE: Proselytizing Public School Teacher is at it Again!

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Matt LaClair
Matthew LaClair
Released June 5, 2009
Contact: Matthew LaClair
(matthew(AT)secularstudents(DOT)org)
Proselytizing Public School Teacher Leads Field Trip to Creation Museum

KEARNY, N.J. - The teacher who made headlines in 2007 over his classroom proselytizing is again trying to use taxpayer dollars to promote his religious agenda.

According to Secular Student Alliance board member Matthew LaClair, Mr. David Paszkiewicz attempted to utilize school funds and equipment to promote a student group field trip to the Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY. The trip is scheduled to take place June 5- 7. If not for LaClair's whistle-blowing, school funds and equipment would have been used for the trip.

Paszkiewicz was the center of a 2007 legal case over his use of public school classroom time to proselytize students and endorse Biblical creationism. It was LaClair who, as a student, exposed this illegal action by recording the lectures and informing the media. The case received world-wide media attention, including coverage by The New York Times.

This latest turn of events occurred "after the training was conducted for the teachers by the Anti-Defamation League and after the speakers came to our school. It is clear he did not learn anything," said LaClair.

Since the 2007 case, Paszkiewicz has become the faculty advisor for a religious student group at Kearny High School. Alpha & Omega is the group going on the field trip, originally scheduled during the school day, and Paszkiewicz will serve as chaperone.

The "Educational rationale for the trip," as written on a field trip request form signed by Paszkiewicz, was that "students will be exposed to the science behind Creationism." Despite the school district's prior church-state legal challenges, the Kearny High School administration approved the trip on the same day it was submitted.

LaClair has challenged the school regarding the legality of this event, even though he is no longer a student there. In response, the school has not cancelled the trip; they have only rescheduled it to take place outside of classroom hours.

Hemant Mehta, the chair of the Secular Student Alliance, is appalled by the school's actions. "It's incredible that a public high school would allow one teacher to undermine what an entire department at their school teaches. A visit to the Creation Museum does not make for an educational field trip. It's simply another way for Mr. Paszkiewicz to preach his religious beliefs on the taxpayers' dollar. As a high school teacher myself, I'm appalled that the Kearny School Board is allowing this trip to take place," he said. Mehta is a public school teacher in Illinois.

The Secular Student Alliance is a national nonprofit organization that supports a network of over 140 groups on high school and college campuses. Its mission is to organize, unite, educate, and serve students and student communities that promote the ideals of scientific and critical inquiry, democracy, secularism, and human-based ethics.
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