A middle school teacher in Georgia has stepped down after insinuating that President Barack Obama was not a Christian. She is expected to retire at the end of the school year.
According to Ernie Suggs of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Chuck Ledbetter of Dublin Schools announced the retirement of Nancy Perry on Tuesday. He also apologized to students and parents for Perry's actions.
"It is not the place of teachers to attempt to persuade students about religious or political beliefs," Ledbetter said. "In doing so, the teacher was wrong and that has been communicated to her... Just as importantly, we are communicating this message to all staff of the school district."
Suggs reported that Perry, a veteran teacher at Dublin Middle School, told her students back in March that President Obama was not a Christian, adding that anyone who voted for him was not a Christian either. According to Sophia Danner-Okotie of WMAZ, the NAACP demanded Perry's resignation after some parents filed a complaint.
"If your parents voted for Obama, they're evil and I don't see how your parents could vote for someone that's Muslim," parent Jimmie Scott said, citing Perry's alleged comments.
Okotie reported that Perry's husband, Bill Perry, sat on the Board of Education. The NAACP also called for his resignation.
"We demand that the school district do the right thing and the right thing would be to demand the resignation of the school board member in question and to accept the resignation of the faculty member," NAACP Georgia president Francys Johnson said back on April 14.
Perry has not returned Suggs's calls, but she indicated to a local television station in Georgia that she did not make the alleged comments about the president and his faith. As for Ledbetter, he told Suggs that the district's professional staff would be given training sessions to ensure "that the administration, from the central office to the principal of each school, clearly and consistently communicate to teachers our expectations."
"We expect these subjects to become a regular part of our annual training of staff," Ledbetter said. "We also intend to plan for greater emphasis within the curriculum on the contributions, history, and culture of diverse people groups."
According to the NAACP, Perry "presented to the parents a packet of several pages from a website that expressed her views on religion and politics."
"The parents' concern was exacerbated by the teacher's unwillingness to even consider the possibility that her classroom conduct was not conducive to a healthy learning environment," NAACP said.
Suggs reported that Obama has identified himself as a Christian. However, some critics, particularly those who call themselves "conservative Republicans," have argued that his unique background has made him "anti-Christian, an atheist" or "a Muslim."
"According to the Pew Research Center, as recently as 2012, 17 percent of voters identified Obama as a Muslim," Suggs wrote. "That view was especially prevalent among conservative Republicans: 34 percent of them identified him as a Muslim."