School Receptionist Faces Dismissal over Prayer Request

Country: United Kingdom

Date of incident: February 12, 2009

A five-year-old girl was reprimanded for talking about her faith at school and her mother, Jennie Cain, who worked part-time at her daughter’s school, was investigated for professional misconduct and faced disciplinary action. The school has settled out of court.

Jennie Cain, formerly a part-time receptionist at her daughter’s school, was investigated for professional misconduct after sending a private email requesting prayers. Mrs. Cain’s five-year-old daughter Jasmine had been overheard by a teacher discussing heaven and God with a friend. The teacher took the five-year-old to one side and reprimanded her. Devon. Mrs. Cain said that when she picked her children up from Landscore Primary School in Devon, “my daughter burst into tears, her face was all red and she was clearly upset. “She said ‘my teacher told me I couldn’t talk about Jesus’ – I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.” The next day, Mrs. Cain was called into head teacher Gary Read’s office over another matter before he started discussing her daughter, Jasmine. “He started talking about my daughter about how he wasn’t happy about her making statements about her faith. At that point I froze, I felt very small and I felt trapped.” That weekend, she emailed a prayer request from her personal computer at home to ten trusted friends from her church. “I asked them to please pray for us, please pray for Jasmine, please pray for the school and pray for the church,” says Mrs. Cain. A few days later she was called back into Mr. Read’s office. “I didn’t think at this point I could be more stunned. He had in his hand a copy of my private, personal email and it was highlighted all the way through. He said that he was going to investigate me for professional misconduct because I had been making allegations about the school and staff to members of the public.” Mrs. Cain, who was not suspended, said he refused to tell her where he had got the email but said two independent governors would be taking statements and calling witnesses. “He said the investigation could be followed by disciplinary action up to and including dismissal because of this private email.”  Mrs. Cain has since settled a discrimination case with the school outside of court for a undisclosed amount. She has decided to leave her position at the school, and says, “I do feel our beliefs haven’t been respected and I don’t feel I have been treated fairly. I don’t know what I am supposed to have done wrong.” We thank the Christian Institute for this report. For more information, including the BBC report - please go to: