VACAVILLE (CBS 5) – A Vacaville teacher has admitted to marking down students’ grades if they said, “God bless you” to a sneezing fellow student, but his school district bosses indicate there is more to the story.

Steve Cuckovich, a health teacher at Will C. Wood High school, was responding to what he saw as a “classroom disruption,” according to a press release issued by Superintendent Dr. John Niederkorn of the Vacaville Unified School District.

“The teacher believed that the students were dramatically sneezing and responding in repetitive fashion, ‘Bless you,'” wrote Niederkorn.

But the teacher gave a different reason to a  TV reporter, saying he was trying to educate students that blessings are antiquated and based on superstitions.

“The blessing doesn’t really make sense anymore,” Cuckovich said. “When you sneeze in the old days, they thought you were dispelling evil spirits out of your body. So they were saying, ‘God bless you’ for getting rid of evil spirits. But today, I said what you’re doing doesn’t really make any sense anymore.”

The school district is investigating the incident to see whether the incident is a violation of free speech or a disruption that merits discipline, said Niederkorn in the statement. “One of the concerns is the social convention of saying, ‘Gesundheit,’ ‘God Bless You,’ or ‘Bless You’ after someone sneezes,” Niederkorn said.

“Certainly a blessing by one individual to another is a welcomed acknowledgement of a social norm,” said Niederkorn. “Hopefully it is not abused as a disruption of a classroom instructional activities.”

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (14)
  1. Me says:

    This moron should be glad that is all they are saying….what a friggin loser…….

  2. ACLU supporter says:

    As an atheist AND (generally) liberal, I suggest FIRING this idiot teacher….for gross stupidity and preaching intolerant dogma.

    By telling students what they are saying “really doesn’t make sense anymore”, he is implicitly preaching. By actually marking the students grade down for using a harmless verbal expression, he really steps over the line separating Church & State, as well as protections under the !st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
    Moreover, he shows an abysmal lack of understanding basic freedoms or psychology.

    If not fired, he should be suspended WITHOUT pay for several weeks and given a homework assignment which includes reading the U.S. Constitution and the power of positive suggestion (as shown in medical studies utilizing placebos), and effective teaching methods.

    Personally, I’d much prefer to hear a sympathetic “Bless you” rather that the “F___ you” message this so-called teacher was bestowing upon his captive students with his grade markdown.


    1. Neil Signo says:

      Its not just ‘superstition’ its ”manners”. walking around the city calling every other person a ‘(&(‘ attitude?

  3. Lisa says:

    As a Christian, I find this teacher’s actions to be extremely silly. It doesn’t matter what the origins of the tradition are: blessing someone shouldn’t be limited to whether they sneeze or not. How can the words ‘God Bless You’ be considered a disruption of the classroom? I understand if it is being done repetitively or during a test in similar fashion, but to mark down a student’s grades because of saying it, seems unfair, especially if the students’ work reflects a better grade. The teacher should be fired for violating basic student rights, IMO. The separation of church and state was implemented to protect the church from government, not the other way around. 🙂

    1. Neil Signo says:

      Where is the teacher ? Teaching people manners? Is the person the type to use students as a job refrence? Or the claim only a few graduate college by holding back the student or job advice while in college?

  4. PLW says:

    Better call in the Federal Government, some students in a school room said
    “God Bless You.” How terrible! How proud the California Teachers Association must be, I bet the Teacher is nominated for Teacher of the Year! No wonder the California Students Grade Ratings are at the bottom of the Charts!

  5. Harry Martin says:

    Profanity, taking the Lord’s name in vain is abundant in schools (not to mention movies and television. But blessing someone? What could happen if people sought to bless each other instead of curse?

  6. Fred says:

    This is not even news. A kid sneezes and some people say “Bless you”. Then some other kid sneezes and everyone says”Bless you”, It happens over and over again. It’s disruptive. ITs a joke, they were punished. No religious B S involved. These are kids, they are wise- Azzes. they got punished, Means nothing.
    Go fight a real battle.

  7. A says:

    It has nothing to do with religion in fact he told my class that today Leave Cuck alone is a wonderful teacher!

  8. Dawg says:

    What if they say gesundheit?

  9. Tina says:

    And this is an example of our future. For shame – people (adults mind you) give their opinions and a child (a child) responds with the f-word and blatant disregard of others views. It is all too common these days. I blame “lg’s” parents and weep for our country’s future.

  10. Laurie Szymanski says:

    I am a christian so I say ” God Bless You” for all kinds of reasons but I am also a substute teacher and have had students disrupt my teaching before by one student sneezing then another and some saying “God Bless You” and so on and so on. I don’t know what happened but it depends on how it happened.

  11. Barri says:

    I think it is blown up , the kids probably were disrupting with it and it sounds like he made fairly light of it . I enjoy the story about how the custom started , I believe it was not a religious issue at all . Seperation of church and state does not mean take God out of schools , it means take government out of church , I understand it is turned on its head as is , why do people exalt that like it is somehow now the truth ? Small perversions lead to bigger ones untill a person or a people decide to be great instead of small , it does happen and honor is rekindled in America , God bless the Tea Party thats the proof of the revival and the constitution is its inspiration , as it was designed ,,, it works !!