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School: Stop stripping or your daughter's expelled

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Christina Silvas, 24, a part-time stipper, is fighting for her daughter to stay in Capital Christian School in Sacramento, California.  


Editor's Note: CNN Access is a regular feature on CNN.com providing interviews with newsmakers from around the world.

(CNN) -- A Christian school in Sacramento, California, says that it would expel a 5-year-old girl if her mother continues her part-time job as a stripper. Christina Silvas, 24, says that she took the job as an exotic dancer to pay for her daughter's $400 a month tuition.

She joined CNN's Jack Cafferty and Rick Cole, head pastor of Capital Christian School on Thursday to discuss whether a parent's job should matter to a school.

JACK CAFFERTY: Christina, let me start with you. I understand that the final decision has not yet been made, and that the school has offered to waive part of your tuition and help you find a different line of work. Is there any way that we can look forward to your daughter graduating? Or is it too late now, and are you just going to continue along with what you have been doing for the last year-and-a-half or so?

CHRISTINA SILVAS: I have been praying for a different response from the school than what I had on Monday and Tuesday. And if it is true that they are willing to work with me on this issue, that would be amazing.

CAFFERTY: You signed an agreement at the time you enrolled your daughter in the school, and ... basically, it says: "Capital Christian School shall have high spiritual and academic standards and shall include the development of the whole person spiritually, mentally, socially, physically and emotionally. Capital Christian Center, the school will be consistent with the General Council of the Assemblies of God"...

Certainly it should come as no surprise that an exotic dancer would not probably be viewed -- and this is not to pass any judgment on what you do for a living -- but probably would not be viewed in that community as an acceptable line of work for a parent enrolled in their school. I mean, surely you can't be surprised at their reaction.

SILVAS: I am not surprised, and I have always been very sensitive. I understand that that line of work is not understood by a majority of people, especially in that environment.

CAFFERTY: OK. You do this part-time. You do it, according to the information...

when your daughter is away visiting her father, and the rest of the time you're a stay-at-home mom --which certainly would be, I would think, compatible with the school officials. But nevertheless, you signed this deal. I mean, didn't you kind of renege on the agreement here?

SILVAS: When I am at work, my daughter is not in my custody.

CAFFERTY: Right.

SILVAS: When she is with me, I absolutely uphold all the standards of the school. I sought out this school because I believed in their philosophy, and there are not two things being taught, one at school and something different at home. I have absolutely been committed to teaching the same things...

CAFFERTY: All right.

SILVAS: ... that the school does.

CAFFERTY: Sure. You wouldn't have enrolled her otherwise. Pastor Rick Cole of the Capital Christian School, you are joining us from Sacramento.

RICK COLE: Good morning.

CAFFERTY: It looks to me like you're punishing a 5-year-old child for the actions of a parent. Obviously this little kindergartner -- I mean, why should she be denied the right to graduate with her classmates? I mean it just seems a bit heavy- handed.

COLE: Well, we are hoping that that does not happen, that she is able to stay in our school.

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Rick Cole is head pastor of Capital Christian School.  

CAFFERTY: But you are prepared to deny her the graduation if the circumstances don't change, correct?

COLE: Well, graduation for kindergarten students, there is no formal ceremony. She will complete the course in kindergarten and be passed to the first grade without any negative consequence whatsoever.

CAFFERTY: What's the problem here? Obviously Christina brought her daughter to you, because she wants her to learn the things that you teach in your school.

COLE: Right.

CAFFERTY: You are prepared to expel the child because of what the mother does. You know, I don't get it.

COLE: We ask for a partnership with the parents that they understand we are working with them. What the parent teaches in the home, we reinforce in our school, and we work together. Well, what is being said with the words and what's being modeled with the lifestyle is a very confusing message.

CAFFERTY: What exactly is it you object to about what Christina does for a living?

COLE: Well, my understanding of her occupation as a stripper in a strip club is that that's a very demeaning act for her to be involved in...

CAFFERTY: According to whom?

COLE: According to God, according to the Bible. She has so much value to God and to us. She is a very precious person. And this is exploiting her, and there is a much greater destiny for her life that God has that we would love to see her enter into.

CAFFERTY: Now, you have offered to help her find another job. What other little inducements are on the table that maybe you could offer in order to get this thing resolved, so that the girl can graduate with her classmates?

COLE: We have offered to suspend the tuition charge for this month if that would be a hardship. We would like to assist her in the process of transition. I got a call yesterday from someone who said, "I'll donate the first $500 to a fund to help Christina and make this transition into a different occupation."

CAFFERTY: All right.

COLE: And I am confident there would be many others that would follow.

CAFFERTY: What about that, Christina? I mean, this isn't the only possibility for work obviously out here, and you've got some people that are willing to help and the school is offering to do some things. Are you willing to bend a little bit and maybe, you know, try to work with them, so that your daughter's situation can be resolved here?

SILVAS: Absolutely. I started doing this approximately a year ago, when the financial responsibility for caring for my daughter fully fell onto my shoulders. And this is the first time someone is coming forward and offering me some help.

CAFFERTY: Really?

SILVAS: Single parents have a tough job.

CAFFERTY: You bet they do.

SILVAS: They are doing the job of two people, and they need all the support that they can get.

CAFFERTY: All right. Well, maybe when we get this interview over, you guys can get on the phone to each other and try and work this out, because we've got to get your daughter her diploma and get her through this graduation. What do you think?

COLE: We agree absolutely.



 
 
 
 







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