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updated: 3/1/2011 2:04 PM

Dist. 128 investigating creationism claims at Libertyville High School

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School district officials are investigating if a Libertyville High science instructor is teaching creationism in class.

"We are looking into it as we speak," Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 spokeswoman Mary Todoric said Tuesday.

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The inquiry followed remarks by Buffalo Grove activist Rob Sherman at Monday's school board session. During a portion of the meeting reserved for public comments, Sherman told the panel he'd been contacted by a Libertyville High student who was concerned the teacher is stressing creationism in his lessons.

Sherman -- an atheist who has crusaded for the constitutionally enforced separation of religion and government -- quoted documents he said were classroom materials that asked students to compare the stances supporters of creationism and supporters of evolution would take on certain scientific matters.

Creationism is the belief that God created the universe and humankind, typically as described in the Bible's Book of Genesis. Evolution is the scientific theory, widely credited to 19th century naturalist Charles Darwin, that man and other life-forms evolved from lesser species over the millennia.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled public school teachers cannot teach creationism alongside evolution in science classes because it would serve as an endorsement of religion or a particular religious belief.

Sherman asked the board to investigate the student's claims. If true, he suggested a new teacher be put in the classroom so the students can "unlearn" what they have been taught.

The teacher -- a 22-year District 128 veteran -- was absent from school Tuesday, but not because of this issue, Todoric said. Officials plan to speak with the teacher and supervisors about the matter.

The issue has arisen elsewhere in Lake County recently. In interviews with the Daily Herald, several candidates for the Lake Zurich Unit District 95 school board and the Fremont Elementary District 79 school board, including some incumbents, have said schools should teach creationism in science classes.

In addition to his activism, Sherman is running for village clerk in Buffalo Grove against incumbent Jan Sirabian.

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