The controversy over a Charlie Brown Christmas poster a Texas school employee was ordered to remove continued on Tuesday with a letter by the state attorney general asking the school to reverse its decision.
Dedra Shannon of Patterson Middletown School in Killeen, Texas was ordered to remove the poster featuring a scrawny tree, Linus and a recitation of the meaning of Christmas, Fox News reports.
Featured on Shannon’s door as part of the poster was what Linus said in the famous cartoon: “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.”
Shannon was told by the principal that the decorations had to be removed because non-Christian students might be offended.
The action by the school garnered national media attention and a social media uproar.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sent a letter on Tuesday to the Killeen Independent School District board of trustees outlining the U.S. Supreme Court’s repeated decisions on freedom of speech and Texas state law which takes a “more inclusive approach to religious and secular celebration.”
“The U.S. Supreme Court has held repeatedly that neither ‘students nor teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate,” Paxton wrote.
Therefore, he argued, staff members “may express their take on the holiday without infringing on the Constitution, even if they incorporate religious terminology.”
Paxton also expressed hope that the school would “rescind this unlawful policy” and apologize to Shannon. He also indicated the school should comply with both state and federal law.
In addition, Paxton offered to defend the school district against any lawsuit that should arise if they reverse their decision on the Charlie Brown Christmas ban.
“Rest assured, should you comply with the law, my office will gladly exercise its discretion under Section 11.51 (e) of the Texas Education Code to represent Killeen ISD in any frivolous litigation that might be filed that seeks to inhibit the religious expression and diversity of Killeen’s educational community,” Paxton wrote in the letter to the school district.
As reported by Fox News, the school district doubled down on its decision Monday and indicated, “Our employees are free to celebrate the Christmas and Holiday season in the manner of their choosing. However, employees are not permitted to impose their personal beliefs on students.”
The school did not indicate how Shannon was imposing her personal belief on students.