Ketcham High School freshman Daniela Barca has repeatedly requested to form a religious club at her school, whose repeated rejection of the student’s requests constitutes a “purposeful violation of the Equal Access Act of 1984,” according to the religious freedom law firm that sent a letter to the school Wednesday.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m the only Christian at my school and I thought others might feel the same way,” Barca said in a statement. “So, I wanted to start a club at school so we can support each other in our beliefs. I hope the superintendent lets me start the club and does whatever it takes to make sure religious clubs are treated like all the other clubs.”
Keisha Russell, a First Liberty Institute lawyer representing Barca, said the school officials “engaged in purposeful, intentional religious discrimination against Daniela for months. We hope this school district ends its clearly unlawful behavior and protects the religious liberty of every student in all its schools.”
Last summer, Barca approached a teacher about wanting to start a Christian student group at the high school this year.
When she submitted the required application after school started, she says she was told the school at first “lost” her application before later finding it. The principal denied her request, suggesting the school could not support a religious club like it did for other, secular clubs.
Barca and her father appealed to the assistant principal, who suggested the club could not be recognized “to gather and talk about spreading the hope of Jesus” unless it modified its viewpoint to something more “generic” and “couldn’t limit it to the Christian Faith.”
Throughout the process, Barca and her father presented several district officials with the Equal Access Act, but the officials ignored the law and still denied her request, despite her petition that the school was violating her right to Equal Access.
“As the U.S. Supreme Court explained, religious clubs must be afforded the same recognition, access and rights as other noncurricular clubs,” First Liberty’s letter to Superintendent Jose Carrion states.
The Wappingers Central School District did not immediately respond to a Fox News request for comment.