November 2023 Church & State Magazine - November 2023

La. high school principal apologizes for lecturing student about religion

 

A high school principal in Louisiana has apologized to a student and will leave his position after he lectured the student about religion and the Bible when a video of her dancing at an off-campus event came to light.

The student, Kaylee Timonet, 17, is student government president and a candidate for scholarships due to her top grades. On Sept. 30, Timonet attended a party off campus to celebrate homecoming at Walker High School in Walker, La. A disc jockey who was playing music at the event made a short video of Timonet dancing and posted it to social media to promote his business, reported CBS News.

A few days later, the principal, Jason St. Pierre, called Timonet into his office and told her she would lose her position in student government and that he would no longer recommend her for scholarships.

Timonet’s mother Rachel reported that St. Pierre told the young woman she was not “living in the Lord’s way,” and printed out Bible verses for her to read. He also asked if her friends “followed the Lord.” (Rachel Timonet was at the party with her daughter, and said she saw nothing inappropriate about the dance.) 

The story went viral, and Timonet’s friends started a campaign called “Let the Girl Dance.” 

On Oct. 8, St. Pierre posted a message on the school district’s Facebook page apologizing for his actions. He apologized to Timonet and her family and said she would face no disciplinary actions.

“Finally, during my conversation with (the student) regarding the dance party, the subject of religious beliefs was broached by (the student) and myself,” the posting read. “While that conversation was meant with the best intentions, I do understand it is not my responsibility to determine what students’ or others’ religious beliefs may be — that should be the responsibility of the individual.”

Rachel Timonet disputed that account and told WAFB-TV it was St. Pierre who brought up religion. She also said her daughter had been harmed by St. Pierre’s actions because she missed a crucial scholarship deadline.

St. Pierre at first requested a leave of absence, but then announced he planned to retire. 

Rachel & Kaylee Timonet: Speaking out

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