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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: December 1, 2022 10:21 AM
From: Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill and Sen. Judith L. Schwank
To: All Senate members
Subject: Protecting the First Amendment Right to Freedom of Religious Expression
In the near future, we will reintroduce Senate Bill 247 from last session 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. 
In the case Nichol v. Arin Intermediate Unit 28 in 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. Based on this decision, Section 1112 is no longer warranted. 
Please join us in co-sponsoring this important piece of legislation to protect our First Amendment right to freedom of religious expression. 
Previous co-sponsors of this legislation include Senators Martin, J. Ward, Aument, Mensch, Dush, Brewster, Street, and A. Williams.

Introduced as SB84