After all zeros dual-enrolled student gets 'A' but lawyer says issue remains

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez, |
Fox News

LAKELAND, Fla. (Christian Examiner) -- The teenage dual-enrolled high school student who challenged a college humanities professor for anti-Christian bias in the classroom received an overall "A" in the class last week despite the school's decision to uphold her failing grades on four questionable essay assignments and claims that the course curriculum was in no way discriminatory.

A public college professor cannot openly discriminate against a student throughout a course and then award a good grade at the end to avoid accountability for the violations.

Polk school officials responded May 6 to a demand letter drafted by Liberty Counsel, an Orlando-based legal non-profit, by stating support of humanities professor Lance "L. J." Russum's teaching tactics and course curriculum.

The school claimed discrimination allegations by the Liberty Counsel on behalf of Grace Lewis, 16, to be "baseless, without merit, and absolutely lacking any factual support."

However, Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver questioned the integrity of Polk State's handling of the issue.

"A public college professor cannot openly discriminate against a student throughout a course and then award a good grade at the end to avoid accountability for the violations," Staver said in a May 7 news release from the organization.

The release claimed that although Lewis earned the grade, the "A" was awarded only after she sought legal assistance to protect her right to answer Russum's anti-Christian essay questions in an academically correct manner without conceding agreement to his worldview.

The day after Polk State administration issued their response to the situation, Lewis stated in an interview with Fox News that she chose to challenge the school through legal action instead of appealing her grades or simply dropping the class -- for the sake of other students who will take Russum's course in the future.

"Students shouldn't be afraid to believe in faith," she said. "Dropping the class would have been good for me, but it wouldn't have been good for the student's coming behind me. ... This is not what education should be."

Yet already, Lewis is not the only student to attest to Russum's hostility toward Christian students.

Through its investigation of Russum's class Liberty Counsel found at least one other student who claimed to have experienced the professor's hostility toward faith and Christianity. The other student reportedly told the legal ministry that her professed belief in God, which she wrote in a required class journal read by Russum, led the professor to pull her aside and encourage her to drop the course.

Staver said Russum's repeatedly hostile actions against more than one student was cause for the school to reconsider their support of Russum's class behavior and course curriculum.

"They need to go back and address this professor who is proselytizing militant atheism," Staver said in the Fox interview. "He's free to have his own views, but he's not free to proselytize and belittle Grace and others."

In a previous statement Staver argued that "No student should be subjected to such outrageous bias and outright hostility to their values by a professor."

"Being a professor is not open season to belittle and punish students merely because they do not subscribe to the professor's radical opinions."