MOORPARK, Calif. A Bible history class lasted for two weeks at Moorpark High School before district officials abruptly canceled the course.
The class, which drew 24 students, hadn’t undergone public review or received approval from the school board, according to the Moorpark Unified School District. There were also questions about whether the course violated the separation of church and state, officials said.
The course was scrubbed, and the students were sent to chorus and ceramics classes instead.
“The bottom line is we are a diverse community, and it’s very important to me to ensure that kids have the maximum opportunity to explore the entire world around them,” said Tina Cantrell, the district’s assistant superintendent in charge of instruction.
“In history, we teach this is what one group believes and this is what another believes,” she said. “We really want kids to be presented with a balanced view.”
A comparative religions course would be more appropriate, she said.
Students Maggie Olbrich, Lauren Skinner and Rachel Precourt, all 17, said they took the class because they wanted to be able to back up their Christian beliefs with historical knowledge and fact.
“I’m a Christian, but I wanted to expand it from factual standpoint,” Olbrich said. “If you blend fact in your faith, it doesn’t become so blind anymore.”
The class on Bible history got on the school’s class offerings last spring after it was proposed by a math teacher who is an ordained minister. The school got the University of California to sign off on the elective but didn’t take it to the school board.
Cantrell said she noticed the course two weeks before school started as she reviewed fall classes and enrollments.
“I said, ‘Uh oh. Where did that come from?’ ” Cantrell said.
Teacher Lorne Friday and principal Anna Merriman weren’t immediately available for comment.