10 Apr 2009

Students Threatened with Suspension for Praying

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A recent bizarre students’ rights case comes from an obscure Bay Area community college.

The Pacific Justice Institute is suing the College of Alameda to protect two students from disciplinary action from the college for praying.


The case was prompted by an incident just before Christmas in 2007 in which the students went to deliver a Christmas gift to a professor.

“Kandy found the instructor alone in her shared office,” according to Pacific Justice. “When the instructor indicated she was ill, Kandy offered to pray for her. The instructor bowed her head, and Kandy began to pray – until she was interrupted by another faculty member, Derek Piazza, who walked in and said, ‘You can’t be doing that in here!’ Kandy quickly left and rejoined her friend and fellow student, Ojoma Omaga. Piazza followed Kandy outside and repeated his rebuke.”

While the students reported they were surprised by the teacher’s aggressive behavior, they were stunned when, days later, they both got letters notifying them of the college’s retroactive “intent to suspend” plan.

The letters, however, provided no facts on which to make such a threat, listing only vague references to “disruptive or insulting behavior” and “willful disobedience.”

School officials informed them during administrative hearings that Kyriacou was being disciplined for praying for the sick teacher. Omaga was not part of the prayer, and her offense apparently was that she was with Kyriacou a short time later.

The lawsuit was filed when the college refused to rescind the letters, leaving the students in peril of suspension or expulsion for any other offense, such as praying on campus. The decision from U.S. District Judge Susan Illston turned back college attempts to deny the students a hearing on their complaint.

“To this day, the College of Alameda has never provided a real explanation for its threats to expel these students,” said Steven N.H. Wood of the Walnut Creek firm of Bergquist, Wood and Anderson, which is working with Pacific Justice on the case.

4 Feedbacks on "Students Threatened with Suspension for Praying"

david brandt

While the behavior of the persecuted students may well have been beyond the pale, it cannot be said that Alameda College is anti-religious. Indeed, it is quite brave, in these PC days, for a public institution to offer a two-day celebration of the life & legacy of any traditional religious figure. And so it is with great pleasure that I can report that Alameda College will be offering a solemn public reading of Malcolm X, followed by a no-classes holiday the following day, the anniversary of the birth of Malcolm:


Ann Wallace

I think it is a disgrace that children are threaten of suspension for praying for a sick professor. What is our leaders doing at the White House, including President OBama to keep this from happening. We have just as much right to pray in schools, colleges are wherever we see fit. If others don’t want to listen, let them leave. They are infringing on our rights as Christians.One day they will wished they had prayed, also. The Bibles says if your ashamed of me before others, I will be ashamed of you on judgement day.


We as Christians have rights too. The atheist and devil worshipers are not expelled from anything. I think anyone feeling the need to pray for someone should be allowed to unless the person they are praying for objects, then they can pray each day in private or church for that person’s salvation.

April 26, 2009


As much as I disagree with the actions of the College of Alameda, I feel it ridiculous that you lump Atheists together with Devil Worshipers. I’m an Atheist and a student of College of Alameda (this being my final semester) and I don’t mind if religious people of any faith want to pray amongst themselves in a private office or room. Finally, I think there is some strange misclassification by the religious who consider atheists the same as anti-theists. There is a huge distinction between the two. We’re not at war with one another unless you guys say we are; otherwise, live and let live.


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