The casual assumption of privilege

See update at the end of the post

One would think after two years of public hoorah in this county over church/state issues in the Freshwater case that there would be a heightened sensitivity to those issues among employees of Knox County (Ohio) schools. But that’s apparently not the case. A Job Training Coordinator at the Knox County Career Center, a vocational high school, is organizing a prayer group for county educators to meet at the local Nazarene University. That in itself is not problematic; such a group has a perfect right to organize and meet in that venue.

However, the organizer publicized his work telephone number and email address as contact information for people interested in the prayer group. More astounding, he specified that contact should be made during school hours!

For more information contact Cagle during school hours at 397-5820, ext. 3051, or e-mail

I know it’s a risk publishing the phone number and email address even though he himself has publicized them. Please don’t call or email Cagle to harass him.

Fortunately, I got a swift response from the Superintendent of the Career Center when I complained about the matter in an email sent last night, saying she intended to deal with it today. I also got a swift response from the President of the Mount Vernon Board of Education, who sits on the Career Center Board, giving me the same assurance. She at least has good reason to know the consequences of messing around with the Establishment Clause.

What was surprising was Cagle’s apparent assumption that it is perfectly OK to use his public school email and phone to organize a sectarian religious event on public school time, “during school hours.” That’s the “casual assumption of privilege” the title of this post refers to. I don’t know Cagle, but I don’t doubt that he’s an OK guy and competent at his job. But what part of “Not on the government’s dime, not on the government’s time” is so hard to understand?

I’m reminded of middle school teacher Dino D’Ettore testifying about giving a “salvation message” to students at the middle school, and of Lori Miller testifying about praying over students in the school, neither of them apparently having any idea of the inappropriateness of that behavior. There’s a real deep pool of ignorance of (or disregard for) the Constitution here.


While I don’t see it on the Mount Vernon News web site, corrected contact information for Cagle at his personal phone and email was published in todays print edition.