A controversial course about the U.S. Constitution will be taught at a church in Springboro, after the Springboro Board of Education decided not to offer the course at the high school.
Ricki Pepin, instructor of the 12-week Institute on the Constitution course, said it will be offered on Tuesdays starting July 16 and running until Oct. 1. Originally, the course was scheduled to start this week but had to be delayed because the district reversed its decision to host the course.
The course has been criticized as “tea-party leaning” and religiously oriented. The district planned to offer the courses to parents, students and staff so the community could experience them first hand, Board Vice President Jim Rigano said in an earlier statement. But the board decided not to host it after receiving community criticism. Earlier, the board said the course was being evaluated for incorporation into the district’s curriculum.
Pepin said she has been teaching the courses for 17 years throughout southwest Ohio. She was invited to present to the board about the course about a year ago and then was invited to teach the course a couple of months later. The course that will start next week has about 30 people already registered and has space for up to 50, she said.
“The issues with the school board were “an interesting experience to go through,” Pepin said. “It was kind of frustrating to be told it’s unconstitutional to teach the Constitution.”
Ellen Horton, who has taught the course in other areas around the region, said she is pleased the course is continuing to be offered in Springboro.
“The school district got it on the docket,” she said. “Community interest kept it alive.”
Springboro parent David Bowman said he’s glad the course isn’t being offered at the school. His issue, he said, was with the district promoting a political agenda.
“People are free to attend whatever courses they want and believe whatever they want to believe,” he said. “As a taxpayer and a parent with children in the schools, the use of public resources to promote specific religious or political perspectives under the guise of academics or the best interests of our children is where the problem occurs.
“There are huge issues in our district. This shows a lack of prioritization, a lack of foresight and a lack of good judgment. It’s a distraction from what is important to the people of Springboro — our kids and schools and our teachers. Foolish distractions like this are taking away from the important things that are really going to have an impact.”
Pepin said the course focuses on teaching the founding documents of the country — The Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution — as the founders wrote them. The Bible, she said, is used as a historical book in the context of what the founders said.
According to a release from Pepin, “The IOTC invites you to learn your Godly American heritage and birthright through the study of the Mayflower Compact, Declaration of Independence, and U. S. Constitution, and other primary source documents. This course relies heavily on original documentation as our goal is to learn the founder’s original intent.”
“We’re not pushing an agenda, we’re just teaching from the documents,” Pepin said. “It is their words, the founder’s words, not ours. People can take it or they can leave it, we’re just teaching what they say.
“This is what I do. This is my passion. I just wanted to give people the opportunity.”
Institute on the Constitution
12 week class
7 to 8:30 pm
Tuesday, July 16-October 1
Faith Alive Church, 946 E. Lower Springboro Road
Cost: $35 for materials
Registration is required to attend the course. Deadline to register is Sunday, July 14.
To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org.