A middle school father outside Harrisburg, Pa., has filed a complaint with his son’s school alleging that a teacher’s Star of David necklace violates Pennsylvania state law.
Act 14 Section 1112 prohibits public school teachers in the state from wearing any “dress, mark, emblem or insignia indicating the fact that such teacher is a member or adherent of any religious order, sect or denomination.” The law was passed in Pennsylvania in 1942. While similar laws have been revoked in many states around the country, the “Pennsylvania Religious Garb Law” has been upheld.
“If a child is subjected to a teacher where a symbol of Judaism is allowed to skirt the law, I believe that a Muslim should be allowed to cover her head as well as a Christian to cover her head like the Bible commands,” the parent, Ernest Perce, told local television station ABC 27.
Hank Butler is executive director of the Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition, an advocacy group that includes members from all 10 of the state’s Jewish federations. Though he said he has no plans to take any direct action in response to the complaint, which was filed with the East Pennsboro Area School District, he said his organization has had its eye on the garb law for a long time and hopes this upcoming legislative session will finally see it revoked.
If the district decides the teacher did in fact violate the law, the teacher could be subject to a one-year suspension. If a school district is aware of a violation and does not respond, the district director could be charged with a misdemeanor and ordered to pay a fine of as much as $100.