The Keller High School principal apologized to parents this week after a guest speaker at an assembly encouraged students to call out the name Jesus.
The speaker, Ryan Roberts, and the organization he represented, C3 Student Leadership, also apologized via social media.
The assembly was for juniors while freshmen were taking the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness. The topic was handling stress and pressure.
According to students, Roberts said there was someone in whom they could all find relief and asked students to call out the name on the count of three. When he reached three, he yelled, “Jesus!”
Several students complained, according to a statement from Keller district officials.
Roberts, a former Keller High student and Baylor University graduate, apologized via Facebook, saying he crossed a line and veered off the agreed-upon topic.
“This is not an issue of religious liberty; this is a breach of trust between C3 Student Leadership and Keller ISD and for that specifically I sincerely apologize to the students, families, teachers, and administrators affected,” Roberts wrote.
When reached by phone, Roberts said the Facebook post is his only comment at this time.
In his letter to parents, Principal Michael Nasra wrote: “It is important for me to strongly reiterate the fact that, in Keller ISD and on the KHS campus, we unequivocally embrace diversity and are disappointed by the speaker’s lack of sensitivity and respect for all beliefs.”
In a statement on its website, c3studentleadership.com, C3 Student Leadership said Roberts was a volunteer whose remark disregarded “the C3 and Keller High School verbal agreement.” The statement said that C3 apologized and “we are grateful for how graciously KISD has handled the situation.”
Keller schools had used speakers from the organization in the past without any problems, Nasra’s letter said.
Nasra wrote, “It is important for me to strongly reiterate the fact that, in Keller ISD and on the KHS campus, we unequivocally embrace diversity and are disappointed by the speaker’s lack of sensitivity and respect for all beliefs.”
For some, it was the apology, not the original comment, that was upsetting. Karen Kay Breazeale, a parent in the district, said Roberts ought to be able to talk about his faith while leaving room for listeners to have different views.
“Diversity includes being Christian,” she said.
A statement from district administration officials said, “Regardless of the faith being expressed, the District would respond in the same manner to any non-approved statements made by a guest speaker. … The District is committed to improving the review process to ensure future organizations and its speakers adhere to state and federal laws.”
Sandra Engelland, 817-431-2231