Orangewood Children’s Home

A Southern California counselor with nearly two decades of experience with foster children is challenging a decision that she be punished after four teens she took on an approved day-long outing encountered a beach festival – and heard Christian music.

The 18-year employee, according to the lawsuit, took four teen girls from the Orangewood Children’s Home, which was launched as a private facility but now is owned and run by Orange County.

“What happened to this counselor was insane and unjust,” said Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, who is defending the counselor.

“Allowing teenagers to overhear a few minutes of Christian music while at the beach should not result in a six-week suspension,” insisted Dacus, who said the counselor’s name is not being released.

A county spokeswoman said officials had not seen the complaint. But it was a personnel  issue, they said, so there would be no comment.

Pacific Justice said the lawsuit was filed after an extensive course of “administrative remedies” proved fruitless.

The complaint explains the counselor took the four teen girls on the field trip during the summer of 2006, first to a 5 kilometer run and then to the beach.

“At the beach, the group encountered a ‘Surf Jam’ taking place at the Huntington Beach Pier. The group also overheard Christian music for about 10 minutes while they were eating,” the institute said.

After the outing, the counselor was ordered into a “disciplinary meeting” that focused on the inappropriateness of Christian music.

No punishment was imposed immediately, but weeks later after another meeting at which the same subject was reviewed, the counselor was suspended six weeks for “exposing children to unapproved religious activities.”

The lawsuit was filed in Orange County Superior Court seeking to recover the financial losses from the suspension and vindicate her constitutional rights, the institute said.

Dacus told WND the circumstances were disturbing.

“It just goes to show how anti-faith some [people] are,” he said.

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