The legal scholar weighs in on the issues in the Steven Williams case and says that the real issue is whether the school administration has the authority to put reasonable limits on what a teacher can say to their classes:
But even assuming his proposed lesson plans that make reference to religion would not violate the anti-establishment idea (and we don’t have enough facts to answer this question one way or the other), the school authorities could still be within their legitimate power to prevent Williams from doing what he wants to. The crucial, if underappreciated, point is that a public school does not have any obligation to include as many religious references into its curriculum as the Constitution allows. The Establishment Clause sets an outer limit on how much religion may be included in public life; it does not dictate any minimum religious content…
In the Williams case, some may respond by invoking, as Williams appears to, notions of “academic freedom” that teachers enjoy under the First Amendment. The idea is that so long as a teacher is not violating the Establishment Clause – or any other limitation imposed by the Constitution — he has substantial leeway to teach his class children in the way he thinks will be educationally best. The reality, however, is that individual K-12 teachers do not – in spite of some loose language and rhetoric out there – enjoy broad First Amendment rights of “academic freedom.”
As I’ve stated previously, the state is the defendant here, not the plaintiff. They do not have to prove that the teacher is violating the establishment clause, they only have to prove that their oversight on the teacher is reasonable and lawful. Given that several quotes, and two entire sources, are entirely fictional in the handouts he is using, and given the multiple complaints from parents saying that Williams talked incessantly about Jesus, even during math lessons, that shouldn’t be difficult to prove. Of course the religious right will still claim that it’s all a matter of anti-Christian bigotry, but those claims are starting to sound like the boy who cried wolf.