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Published On: Mon, Aug 25th, 2014

Tennessee student, Kendra Turner, suspended for saying ‘Bless you’

A Tennessee high school student made headlines this week after being suspended for saying “bless you” to another student who had sneezed. When confronted, the student said it “was a courtesy” taught to her by her pastor and parents.

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“She asked why I said it, and I told her I was being courteous, and she asked me who told me that it was courtesy?” 17-year-old Kendra Turner said. “I told her my pastor and my parents taught me to say it.”

Turner was then instructed to go to the principal’s office, where she was placed in in-school-suspension for the remainder of the period, as a matter of routine. She was allowed to attend her next class.

Dyer County High School Assistant Principal Lynn Garner said that teachers were allowed to make up rules for their own classrooms, as long as they are reasonable.

“If a teacher asks his or her students to do something reasonable to avoid a distraction in the classroom, then we expect the students to follow the rules,” he told The Tennessean. “If it’s not a reasonable request, then we’ll sit down and talk about it to get it right.”

Turner said that the phrase was banned along others like “dumb,” “stupid,” “hang out” and “my bad.”

Turner held a news conference on Tuesday at the Dyersburg First Assembly of God to talk about the incident.

“I want God to be able to be talked about in school,” she said. “I want them to realize that God is in control and they’re not.”

Turner also said she did not want the teacher who punished her to be “bashed” because “that’s kind of harmful and disrespectful.”

Garner said the incident had been blown out of proportion on social media and then added: “I will say this in regard for our teachers. There is not one here I don’t trust my own kids with and my kids are here and other relatives are here or have been here. I trust the teachers and beyond a shadow of a doubt all of our teachers have the students best interest at heart,” added Garner. “They treat the kids with respect, and I think the majority of the students believe the teachers genuinely care about them.”

“In this case, this was not a religious issue at all, but more of an issue the teacher felt was a distraction in her class,” he said.

“The majority of the time, when a student comes to the office either voluntarily or was sent by a teacher, they are placed in ISS until the end of the period because we have two supervisors in there to watch them,” Garner said in a statement to the State Gazette. “Also, it gives us a chance to find out what the situation is and what happened in the classroom for them to be in the office in the first place. In this case, this was not a religious issue at all, but more of an issue the teacher felt was a distraction in her class.”

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About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.

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  1. George Hilman says:

    “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

    Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District
    (U.S. Supreme Court decision)

  2. mark says:

    If you don’t think a child can turn ‘bless you’ into something loud, obnoxious, rude, and disruptive then you’ve never spent any time in public school.

    Extremist Christians believe this terrible lie, that everyone else (moderate Christians, non-Christians, etc) are out to get them. That we all have an agenda to silence and stifle all forms of religious expression in public, just because we don’t want their over-zealous bible thumping in every classroom.

    And because these paranoid extremists believe this nonsense, we have stories like this being blown out of proportion.

    What probably happened here was an obnoxious student was being loud and disruptive, and then they were trying to be a smarmly little lawyer (as many disruptive kids are) by hiding behind the phrase ‘bless you’ while being rude and disruptive. If you don’t think a child can turn ‘bless you’ into something loud, obnoxious, rude, and disruptive then you’ve never spent any time in public school.

    This isn’t about saying a religious thing in school. This is about intentionally trying to disrupt class.

    • E-r-s says:

      I work in the public school system and I rather have a student who only being polite with those Christian values than other students who disrespects, curse, and hit teachers all day – and don’t get suspended!

      This “Zero Tolerance” policy is killing our kids
      and adult’s common sense!

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