Compensation payout for atheist parent who objected to religious content in school
David Michael, from Great Bernera off the west coast of the Isle of Lewis, has accepted a £1,000 compensation payment and more than £1400 in costs from Western Isles Council following a legal battle over the religious content in his son’s education and the manner in which they treated his complaint.
Overly religious elements in lessons about Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, and a planned trip to a Bible exhibition, had prompted the initial enquiries. The state-funded school is not even a ‘faith’ school, having “integrated community” status. But the school appeared, according to Mr Michael, inflexible in how it would handle his objections, unnecessarily extending his request to be removed from RE to other areas of school activities at a detriment to his son.
In a subsequent letter from Kirsteen Maclean, the school’s headteacher, he was told that removing his son, Anton, from religious education would have wider implications.
“Withdrawal from RE would also include him being withdrawn from all school assembly occasions and Christmas activities,” she said.
The out-of-court settlement means that no liability has been accepted by the local authority and no legal precedent has been set.
Mr Michael has said he will donate the compensation money back to the school.