The school district penalized the student for secretly taping the teacher, the student's lawyers say.
"I believe it is important to stand up for our constitutional rights and to make sure that these violations of the First Amendment, which apparently have been going on for years, are stopped once and for all," Matthew LaClair, 16, said. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of speech.
Starting in September, LaClair complained to school administrators about his history teacher, David Paszkiewicz.
LaClair says Paszkiewicz told students evolution is less fact-based than the Bible, there were dinosaurs on Noah's Ark, the Big Bang theory of creation is unscientific, and that the Bible has been proven to be literally true.
Knowing he might not be believed, LaClair recorded the teacher's statements and gave the recordings to the principal. After that, school officials declined to further discuss with LaClair or his parents what actions would be taken to correct the problem, the ACLU said.
"Our district fully supports and takes seriously its obligation to ensure that the personal religious beliefs of our professional staff stay out of the classroom," school board president Bernadette McDonald said in a written statement.
She said the school took corrective action once the problem surfaced, but did not give details.
From Paszkiewicz's point of view, he was merely answering a question posed to him in a question-and-answer session, according to Demetrios Stratis, a Fair Lawn lawyer who said he represented the teacher.
"He was asked to give an opinion. He said it was an opinion. And he offered that information," Stratis said.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press (external - login to view).