Education

Folsom Cordova could block Bible, atheist emails under new policy

Flier promoting a “Bring Your Bible to School Day” sent by the Folsom Cordova Unified School District on behalf of a religious organization.
Flier promoting a “Bring Your Bible to School Day” sent by the Folsom Cordova Unified School District on behalf of a religious organization. Sacramento

Folsom Cordova Unified School District trustees have narrowed the criteria for announcements sent to families through a district email system, a move designed to prevent messages promoting events such as “Bring Your Bible to School Day” and the atheist-related “Freethought Day.”

District spokesman Daniel Thigpen said the unanimous vote by trustees on Thursday night sets stricter guidelines but still allows parks and recreation districts, government agencies and nonprofits to promote activities that are aligned with education.

Last fall, the district allowed distribution of emails for “Bring Your Bible to School Day” and “Freethought Day” after receiving legal advice that refusing to do so could amount to discrimination.

By outlining new criteria for what is acceptable, trustees going forward have greater ability to determine what the district will send families via its contract email system, Peachjar, Thigpen said. Those criteria, in part, specify that promotions for events should be related to student learning and educational enrichment.

The district required disclaimers noting that neither the Bible nor “Freethought” event was sponsored by Folsom Cordova. Even so, some parents were furious that the district had allowed a religious entity and an atheist-related group to promote themselves via the district email system. The emails went to about 20,000 email addresses in the district.

The disclaimer requirement remains part of the new policy.

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