The Chilliwack school board has opted to keep in place a regulation one parent has said endorses "religious marketing" in local public schools.
Richard Ajabu complained to the board last week after his daughter, who attends Sardis elementary, brought home a permission form to receive a free Bible at school from Gideons International, an evangelical Protestant association that has handed out free Bibles to Canadian Grade 5 public school students since 1946.
Ajabu was surprised to find out there was a local regulation in place that endorses the Gideons' activity in the Chilliwack district.
"The Board approves the distribution of Gideon Youth Testaments to Grade 5 pupils with parental consent," states administrative regulation 518.
Ajabu wants that regulation rescinded and the handing out of Bibles in local public schools stopped, calling it "indoctrination" and saying it discriminates against other religious groups and interferes with parents' rights to educate their children in such matters.
Trustee Walt Krahn told the Times Thursday superintendent Evelyn Novak had added Ajabu's complaint to her Oct. 23 agenda (not specifically to the agenda of the regular public meeting as originally reported).
Rather than discuss it at the public meeting, Novak opted to include it in her regular "superintendent's conversation" meeting with trustees before the in-camera and public meetings.
There trustees decided to leave the regulation in place.
"The board confirmed for me that it's policy and we're carrying on as is," Novak told the Times.
Ajabu, meanwhile, told the Times Novak had told him she would discuss his complaint with the board, but as of press time Wednesday, he said he hadn't heard anything further from the district.
"I am surprised at the apparent secrecy and lack of open dialog by SD33 [School District No. 33] so far," he wrote in an email.
He said the board should suspend the regulation that endorses the distribution of Bibles immediately because it exposes the district to the risk of legal action.
"If SD33 continues to allow the distribution of non-instructional religious materials in public schools, they may be breaking the law, and they may be exposing the public school district (and taxpayers) to increased risk of legal action that should be completely unnecessary."
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