A federal grand jury punished a public school superintendent for rejecting a vice-principal applicant because she refused to remove her children from a private Christian school.

The jury unanimously said the constitutional rights of Karen Jo Barrow were violated and ordered former Greenville, Texas, Independent School District Superintendent Herman Smith to pay back wages of $15,000 and $20,000 in punitive damages.

“This is truly a victory for every teacher and administrator in America,” said Kelly Shackelford, chief counsel for Texas-based Liberty Legal Institute. “The jury sent a strong message that this type of behavior is not permitted within school districts.”

Barrow claimed she was denied the opportunity to interview for the job because Smith insisted she remove her children from Greenville Christian School.

The teacher said she would use the awarded money to fund college scholarships for Greenville ISD and Greenville Christian School graduates who pursue education degrees.

Shackelford argued “American children are not children of the state. They’re the children of the parents.”

“One of the most fundamental rights every parent has is the right to decide how to bring up and educate their children and whether they want to put them in a Christian school, public school or whatever school they feel is best for their own children,” he said.

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