Student refuses to change art
May 30, 2005: When Napa High School senior Kyle Trudelle began his art project – a mural depicting steps leading to a castle in the clouds – he didn't imagine some students would start a petition to stop him for violating the separation of church and state or school officials would order him to put down his brush while district lawyers reviewed the matter – particularly since there was already an adjacent mural depicting Our Lady of Guadalupe, an important religious figure to Catholics and the large portion of the student body of Mexican decent.
He initially responded to critics who said his mural looked too much like heaven and blurred the boundary between church and state by agreeing to change it. However, he decided that wasn't the right course. His lawyer told the school he should be allowed to finish the work, because requiring a change would constitute discrimination, given the existing painting of the Virgin Mary already on the same wall.
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"Kyle is incapable of violating the Establishment Clause because he is not an employee or agent of Napa High School," the attorney wrote.
Kyle hopes he gets to add the finishing touches before graduation.
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