Answer student's question ... get fired

Monday, January 21, 2013
Bob Kellogg (

An attorney says a long-time New Jersey substitute teacher who was terminated because he shared biblical truth with an inquisitive student shouldn't have been fired for merely satisfying the student's curiosity.


Last October, Walter Tutka told a student who was last in a line to leave the classroom that "the last will be first, and the first will be last." After the student reportedly asked numerous times about the phrase, Tutka showed him Matthew 20:16 and offered the child his personal Bible, which the student accepted and later returned, according to The Express-Times.

But as Hiram Sasser of the Liberty Institute reports, the school board suspended Tutka for the remainder of the school year for breaking two district policies: one that prohibits school employees from distributing religious literature at school, and another that requires educators to remain neutral while discussing religious materials.

"Certainly this is religious hostility and religious discrimination … by the school district that was totally unnecessary," Sasser contends. "There has been no complaint, and all he was doing was satisfying a student's intellectual curiosity."

He further points out that the school board is violating its own policy by showing hostility toward one particular religion.

"Here we have a teacher who was being asked where a common phrase, quotation -- 'the last shall be first, and the first shall be last -- where did that come from," the attorney relays, "and the teacher simply was providing the text and resources to identify that common source."

Sasser says Tutka is currently considering his legal options. It is unclear whether he will be able to re-apply for his position on the approved substitutes list next year.

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