|Posted:||January 12, 2021 04:15 PM|
|From:||Representative David S. Hickernell|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Protecting First Amendment Rights (Former HB 984 of 2019-20 Session)|
|I plan to re-introduce HB 984 that repeals Section 1112 of the Public School Code of 1949.
Currently Section 1112 prohibits a teacher from wearing any garb, mark, emblem or insignia that would indicate he or she is a member of or adherent to any religious order or sect while in the performance of their duties as a teacher. A teacher who violates this ban must be suspended from teaching for a term of one year, or permanently disqualified from teaching after multiple offenses. Furthermore, a public school director can be held criminally liable for failing to enforce this prohibition. PA is the only state to retain such a statute.
In the case Nichol v. Arin Intermediate Unit 28 the United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania held that Arin Intermediate Unit 28’s religious Affiliations policy violates the Free Exercise of Religion and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The teacher was suspended pursuant to the Garb Statute and ARIN’s Religious Affiliations policy from her job as an instructional assistant for refusing to comply with her supervisor’s request that she remove or conceal a small cross she regularly wore on a necklace. As a result of the ruling, the plaintiff was rehired with back pay.
Additionally, subsequent to the enactment of Section 1112 of the Public School Code, PA enacted Act 214 of 2002 (PA Religious Freedom Protection Act). In light of the passage of Act 214 of 2002 it is questionable that Section 1112 is enforceable.
Please join me in co-sponsoring this important piece of legislation to protect our First Amendment right to freedom of religious expression.
Previous Cosponsors: HICKERNELL, RYAN, ZIMMERMAN, SCHLOSSBERG, MILLARD, B. MILLER, KEEFER, MENTZER, GROVE, TOPPER, GILLEN and JONES
Introduced as HB418