BROOKFIELD, Ohio – Phillip Vaccaro considers Jesus his best friend.
So to him, Jesus seemed perfect for a writing assignment the 7th-grader got this spring in his language-arts class in Brookfield, Ohio: write a friendly letter to someone who dramatically changed his life.
But his teacher didn’t like his choice of correspondent.
"She told him he could not write that letter because Jesus wasn't a real person — that he didn't exist," Phillip’s mother, Peggy Koehler, said.
"How dare they throw their atheistic values upon my child?"
But the attorney for the school district said the class assignment was to prepare a letter and mail it to someone else, with the hope the students would get a response. In the attorney's words, it would be difficult to get a written reply from Jesus.
Phillip's mother isn’t buying it. So she has filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against the school district, claiming her son's constitutional right to freely express his religion was violated because he wasn't allowed to write to Jesus.
The Brookfield School District denies infringing upon Phillip's rights.
"It was also suggested that the letter could be addressed to a pastor, priest or church," the school attorney wrote in a statement to Fox News.
Not according to Koehler.
"From the very beginning of this, their stories have changed over and over again," she said.
After the disputed assignment, Phillip’s mother pulled him out of school, and he failed all his classes. He wants to attend a different school next year.
"What do (I) think Jesus would think about what has happened to (me)? I hope he's proud of me. And on my side," he said.