A man demanded an apology after his son was told that he couldn’t read the bible in a Broward County classroom.
“I was just shocked, just shocked when she said bluntly -- you’ll hear the tape,” said Paul Rubeo.
“Good morning Mr. Rubeo, Mrs. Thomas. Uh. Uh. Giovanni called you because I asked him to. I noticed that he has a book – a religious book- in the classroom. He’s not permitted to read those books in my class,” said a voicemail from the teacher of Giovanni Rubeo, a fifth-grade student.
The voicemail came last month after Giovanni, a fifth-grader at Park Lakes Elementary in Lauderdale Lakes, took out his bible during a 90-minute free-reading period.
“After I started reading it, little by little, it became my favorite book to read,” Giovanni said. “A lot more better than all the other books. She told me to put it away. And I cooperated. I was cool. I put it away.”
Paul Rubeo was still not happy and wrote a letter asking the principal and the teacher to let his son read his bible during free reading. The letter was given to the legal department for the school and Rubeo was promised a response.
“Giovanni has a First Amendment right to read his bible at school like every other student across the country does,” said senior council Jeremiah Dys.
The Broward School District gave NBC 6 a statement Monday that admitted it was wrong saying, “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. This information has been communicated to the parents of the student involved in this situation."
Still, Giovanni and his father said it’s not enough. They want an apology.
“I want the school to send me an apology and let me read my bible during free reading time,” Giovanni said.
“Admit it and move on,” Paul Rubeo said. “Let’s all get past this. Don’t be stubborn. Let’s move on.”