Nearly 100 people and four news outlets — including Austin’s Fox News affiliate — crammed into Killeen Independent School District’s board room Tuesday to weigh in on the fate of a religious Christmas poster.

After more than an hour of discussion, the board decided, in a 6 to 1 vote, to uphold the district’s decision to remove the “Charlie Brown Christmas” decorations Dedra Shannon put up on her door at Patterson Middle School in Killeen.

While some board members expressed difficulty with their ruling, they believed that no further action should be taken on the matter. The board ultimately vote in favor of taking no further action to reverse the district’s decision. The only board member voting against the action was Board President Terry Delano.

The door decoration in question was inspired by a scene in the Peanuts classic, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” in which Linus van Pelt stands on a stage and recites a biblical passage describing the Christmas story: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior which is Christ the Lord. That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

The removal of the decoration sparked nearly 500 comments on the Killeen Daily Herald’s Facebook page and became state and national news over the past five days leading up to Tuesday’s meeting.

Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values, who is now Dedra Shannon’s legal representative, had much to say about his displeasure with the board’s ruling.

Many who attended the meeting said the state’s so-called “Merry Christmas Law,” which was enacted 2013, has been misinterpreted by the district.

“Ms. Shannon’s display does not in any way violate the Merry Christmas Law” Saenz said. “You are allowed to have displays. Banning these expressions is a violation of religious freedoms.”

Prior to the board’s decision, Saenz warned the board of his intentions if they did not allow the poster back up on campus.

“Allow the Charlie Brown poster to go up. If not, we will be forced to take other action,” he said.

After the board’s ruling, Saenz said, “The KISD school board has gone rogue and is now in a very dangerous place.”

District administrators last week reviewed the decision made by Patterson Middle School Principal Kara Trevino about the door decoration, and the district Friday confirmed their support of the initial decision to remove the poster.

Joe Goodson, representing the Concerned Christian Citizens, said during the public forum, “Our money says ‘in God we trust.’ Are we supposed to stop using it to not violate other religions’ rights?”

For over an hour. community members spoke in support of Shannon, imploring the board to reverse the decision made previously to remove the poster.

Speakers referenced quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the Pledge of Allegiance in supporting a change in the district’s policy.

Background

On Monday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton criticized KISD’s decision to remove a portion of the decoration that referred to biblical verses.

Paxton described the decision as “an attack on religious liberty.”

Todd Starnes, a Fox News columnist, last week broke the news on the principal’s decision to remove the door decoration and the district’s decision to support her by writing a column that drew national attention.

Board member responses

While board members and KISD officials did not respond directly to public forum comments Tuesday, they did speak during the regular meeting prior to announcing their ruling.

KISD Superintendent John Craft started the dialogue among board members, saying, “We appreciate your comments; this is not an easy decision.” Craft added. “It’s become evident to me that there is an inconsistency as to what can and can’t be displayed for the Christmas holiday, and we owe clarity”

Board member JoAnn Purser expressed her lack of clear understanding of the law’s interpretation.

“I cannot make a decision today without further clarity on the Merry Christmas law. I know what my heart wants me to do, but I know we are all tasked with adhering to this state law.”

Delano closed the remarks, saying, “The poster did not coerce anyone to be a Christian, in my opinion. If this continues to be the trend, there will come a day where we can’t say ‘Christ-mas.’”

The board ultimately recommended a study on the matter, but to not allow the poster to go back up.

Dozens of attendees were visibly upset when leaving the room after the ruling.

Shannon was distraught over the board’s decision. She wiped tears from her eyes while leaving the meeting.

254-501-7568 | quinton@kdhnews.com

(6) comments

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.
So this is what the United States has become???
I agree with all of the statements presented here yesterday, and the comments of presenters, Except '@AfaceInTheCrowd: There is a place for religion in the public schools, it's called 'Heritage', for as I've said before, 'This Country Is and Has been formed/created by a religious group that came here to get away from a form of religious persecution and as we speak, there are an estimated 85% that believes, 'There is a place for religion in this country'. I am here to say, 'Yes Charlie Brown, there is a Santa Claus', but before anyone gets relied up, the Santa Claus I speak of is in the hearts of mankind.


Copy: 'After the board’s ruling, Saenz said, “The KISD school board has gone rogue and is now in a very dangerous place.” End of copy.
I agree with that assessment.
Copy: 'Joe Goodson, representing the Concerned Christian Citizens, said during the public forum, “Our money says ‘in God we trust.’ Are we supposed to stop using it to not violate other religions’ rights?”. End of copy.
Again I agree with what he said, are we so far 'down the pike that there is no return???
Copy: 'For over an hour. community members spoke in support of Shannon, imploring the board to reverse the decision made previously to remove the poster.
Continuation of copy: 'Speakers referenced quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the pledge of allegiance in supporting a change in the district’s policy.
Continuation of copy: 'On Monday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton criticized KISD’s decision to remove a portion of the decoration that referred to biblical verses.
Paxton described the decision as “an attack on religious liberty.”. End of copy.
That is the first of the so called 'Merry Christmas Law, that was originated in 2013. I would ask, 'what is the purpose besides siding with all of the 'non conformists that exists in this Nation today'? As I've said before, This wasn't the intent 200 years ago, and this wasn't the intent 100 years ago, and this wasn't the intent 60 years ago, so what changed the United States of America??? Have we gotten so educated that we can do without religion???
Copy: 'Board member JoAnn Purser expressed her lack of clear understanding of the law’s interpretation.
“I cannot make a decision today without further clarity on the Merry Christmas law. I know what my heart wants me to do, but I know we are all tasked with adhering to this state law.”. End of copy.
And to this remark 'Delano closed the remarks, saying, “The poster did not coerce anyone to be a Christian, in my opinion. If this continues to be the trend, there will come a day where we can’t say ‘Christ-mas.” This will be a sad day for this country.
And I'll leave with this comment:
Rule No. 1: 'Management must maintain the illusion of the infallibility of management'.
Rule 2: See rule No. 1.
Yes I see this as a black day when the Federal government has said that 'Christmas is a federal holiday, and the State Attorney General has said that he is against this ruling by the KSID, and the KSID will not retract their ruling and reinstate the one board that some people find offensive.
What say you city of Killeen city council??? Is there a few pearls of wisdom to be spoken??? Will any of you take a stand about this item???
One of the few that voted in this last election.

don76550

Time for a recall election for the school board. Failing that, vote these clowns out at the next election. School board races have low turnout, so if your are outraged by this asinine school board make it a point to show up and vote against them. Also, vote down any school bond elections that come up. Hopefully the Killeen school board will be facing expensive lawsuits over this, which they will probably lose.

IamJustsSaying

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior which is Christ the Lord. That’s what Christmas is all about, KISD Board of Trustees.”

FaceInTheCrowd

Religion has no place in a public school. There are a good many faith-based schools in our city where such posters can be displayed.

Dr Strangelove

It’s not about religion in case you didn’t know Christmas is a United States Federal Holiday signed into law by President Grant. It’s about the Christmas Holiday BTW Holiday means Holy Day.

Dr Strangelove

Maybe we citizens should get some lawyers to sue KISD for us to stop paying KISD School Taxes? That will wake these liberal loons up.

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