NEW ORLEANS -- Creationism won't be taught in Orleans Parish Public Schools. That is the message from the School Board this week after it voted in favor of keeping religion out of science classes.
"It was a unanimous vote. I was very pleasantly surprised," said outgoing School Board President Thomas Robichaux.
After years of debate, the Orleans Parish School Board voted on Tuesday night to keep creationism out of its classrooms. The decision means students won't learn about the religious theory that God created the universe and everything in it -- at least not in science class.
"To teach anything but scientific theory in a science class is just wrong for our kids. The (Louisiana Science Education Act) is a direct attack on our children's future and this is a direct defense to that," said Robichaux.
The new policy approved by OPSB bans creationist textbooks from being used in the classroom.
The policy says: "No history textbook shall be approved which has been adjusted in accordance with the state of Texas revisionist guidelines nor shall any science textbook be approved which presents creationism or intelligent design as science or scientific theories."
It stresses the separation of science and religious teachings:
"No teacher of any discipline of science shall teach any aspect of religious faith as science or in a science class. No teacher of any discipline of science shall teach creationism or intelligent design in classes designated as science classes."
Robichaux said he has been pushing to approve the new policy ever since the Louisiana Education Science Act was passed by state lawmakers back in 2008.
"The conservative elements in the state have gotten stronger and stronger and more and more religious and farther to the right. I think it behooves us to take these steps to protect our kids' educational futures," said Robichaux.
However, not everyone supports the school board's decision.
"If you shut out one, you're limiting the constitutional right of freedom of religion," said Jason, who asked to be identified only by his first name.
"Private schools have a right to teach it as they may. But science and science theories in public schools is the correct way to teach children," said parent Michael Madej, who lives in New Orleans.
Creationism is not currently part of the Orleans Parish School Board's curriculum. The new policy will impact a total of six schools.
Louisiana Superintendent of Education Jonathan White declined to comment on our story, saying Tuesday's vote was a district issue.
Gov. Bobby Jindal signed the Louisiana Education Science Act into law back in 2008. The Governor's Communications Director Kyle Plotkin issued this statement in response to the OPSB vote:
"As we've always said, we support the ability of local school boards to make the best decisions to ensure a quality education for our children."