Lehigh Valley

Parents sue Nazareth Area School District over son's Valentine's Day card for classmates

Lawsuit claims district violated boy's constitutional rights

Parents suing school district over Valentine controversy

NAZARETH, Pa. - Valentine's Day has come and gone, but it left heartbreak behind for one local family.

Now a couple is taking on the Nazareth Area School District in Northampton County over a dispute about their first-grader's Valentine's Day cards.

"It's really impacted him personally," said Matt Sharp, an attorney who is representing Donald and Ellen Abramo and their son. The couple filed a lawsuit on behalf of their son.

Sharp is an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, which, he explained, is a nonprofit law firm that seeks to defend the right of Christians to share their faith.

Sharp said it was the content of the boy's Valentine's Day cards that caught the attention of school officials at Shafer Elementary School in Nazareth. He said the boy made the note with his family at home.

"They prepared a Valentine's note that said this is the history of Valentine's and we wanted to share God's love, message of God's love for you, so they included the Bible verse John 3:16," said Sharp. "The teacher sees the Bible verse, brings it up to the principal and ultimately it led to the notes being removed from our client's cards."

The note that was attached to the card said, "Happy Valentine's Day! St. Valentine was imprisoned and martyred for presiding over marriages and for spreading the news of God's love. In honor of St. Valentine's Day, I want you to know that God loves you!!!"

Below that is the Bible verse.

The suit claims the principal told the Abramos that it is district policy that no religious material of any kind can be distributed at school.

"The student was upset about this. He and his siblings that had also prepared them had put a lot of work into these and to see all of your hard work basically thrown out because it was religious. He was upset by it," explained Sharp.

The Abramos have filed suit against the Nazareth Area School District, claiming the boy's constitutional rights were violated. Sharp said they're asking the district to get rid of the policy they're challenging and to allow students to distribute religious materials during class activities.

Calls to school and district officials were not returned Tuesday.

"Some of the other cards that were allowed, one of them had a kind of open laughing skull. There was others that had Star Wars, the troopers with guns," he said. "It's just troubling when all of that other stuff is allowed and then here's a message about Valentine's and quoting a Bible verse and it's the one that's targeted out and censored."

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