South Florida student says teacher won't let him read Bible in class

Published On: May 06 2014 05:20:16 PM EDT

Giovanni Rubeo, a fifth-grade student at Park Lakes Elementary School in Lauderdale Lakes, says he wants to be able to read his Bible during free reading period in class.

LAUDERDALE LAKES, Fla. -

Giovanni Rubeo, a fifth-grade student at Park Lakes Elementary School in Lauderdale Lakes, said Monday he wants to be able to read his Bible during free reading period in class.

"The Bible gives you a lot of wisdom, especially the Book of Prophets," Giovanni told WPLG-TV.

Giovanni said his teacher won't let him, even leaving a voicemail for his father.

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"I noticed that he has a book -- a religious book -- in the classroom," his teacher said in the voicemail. "He's not permitted to read those books in my classroom."

A letter from the school's principal said he can read his Bible before and after school and during lunch, which the Rubeo family said violates their civil rights.

"That's not what the Constitution says," Liberty Institute attorney Jeremiah Dys said.

Dys, who represents the Rubeos, is demanding a public apology.

"I want the school to send me an apology and let me read my Bible during free reading time," Giovanni said.

The school's stance contradicts the Broward County school district, which issued a statement about the issue Monday.

"Broward County Public Schools respects and upholds the rights of students to bring personal religious materials to school, including the Bible, and to read these items before school, after school or during any 'free reading' time during the school day," Cathleen Brennan said in a statement. "This information has been communicated to the parents of the student involved in this situation."

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