Today, a Bell County judge issued a ruling that a Christmas poster in Killeen, TX could be placed back on the door with the additional text “Ms. Shannon’s Christmas Message.” Texas Values president Jonathan Saenz represented Dedra Shannon in court today, a staff member of Killeen Independent School District (ISD), who was forced to remove portions of a Christmas poster that she had displayed on her door at Charles E. Patterson Middle School last week. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s legal team also made an appearance in court in support of Ms. Shannon.
Ms. Shannon, a clinic aide, decorated the nurse’s office door with a scene from A Charlie Brown Christmas with a direct quote from Linus, when Linus tells Charlie Brown about the religious history of Christmas. Ms. Shannon was told her door decorations must be torn down by the school’s principal because they were “an issue of separation of church and state.” The principal told Ms. Shannon that the drawing of the Linus character and symbol could stay, but Linus’s quote referencing the religious history of Christmas that included the word “Christ” had to be removed, if not, the entire poster had to be removed.
Despite the fact that there was public unanimous support for Ms. Shannon’s poster, the Killeen ISD school board voted Tuesday night, 6-1 to enforce the ban on a Charlie Brown Christmas poster that references the religious history of Christmas. Only school board president, Terry Delano voted to allow the poster to go back up.
The judge’s ruling stated that Ms. Shannon may put up her Christmas poster with the additional wording “Ms. Shannon’s Christmas Message.”
Jonathan Saenz, President of Texas Values and Legal Counsel for Ms. Shannon, stated,:
“Nothing says ‘Merry Christmas’ like a court victory for religious freedom in December in public schools. Ms. Shannon is a brave and faithful woman that we are honored to represent. This scenario is exactly why the Merry Christmas law was written- to protect teachers, staff, and students in their expression of the Christmas season. We are so thankful for General Ken Paxton’s support.”
Details on the Merry Christmas law can be found at merrychristmastexas.com.
In 2013 the Texas Legislature passed the Merry Christmas law (Texas Education Code 29.920) which guarantees the freedom of children, teachers, parents, and school administrators to acknowledge Christmas on school grounds without fear of censorship, persecution, or litigation.
View the Judge’s TRO order here.
View our lawsuit filled in this case here.
View Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s intervention into our case here.