When Annette Kiehne looked for ways to make the playground safer at Trinity Lutheran Church preschool in Columbia, Missouri, she had no idea the plan would become a federal case – all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.
As director of the school, she just wanted to replace the playground’s pea gravel surface with shredded tires, which would be a more comfortable cushion for the inevitable tumbles from monkey bars and such. And the church playground qualified for a state program that was giving away just such a surface.
But after Trinity was judged fourth best of the 14 applicants who qualified to get the shredded rubber, state officials changed their minds. Because the preschool is run by a church, they decided, Missouri law bars it from taking part in a program funded with state money.