SACRAMENTO (CBS) — A Northern California teacher is at the center of controversy after imposing penalties on his students for saying “bless you” in response to sneezing in his classroom.

Teacher Steve Cuckovich at Will C. Wood high school in Vacaville said the common courtesy is disrespectful and disruptive to classroom activity — but insists the ban has nothing to do with religion.

“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 the evil spirits,” said Cuckovich. “But today, I said, ‘Really what you’re doing doesn’t make any sense anymore’.”

Cuckovich started off the new school year by docking a student 25 points for saying the phrase in response to a sneeze.

Some parents were less than receptive to the new measure.

“Everybody has the right to their own beliefs, but they don’t have rights to impose those beliefs on other people, especially not school children,” said parent Alan Johnson.

The school’s principal has stated that the disciplinary measure will not be tolerated.

Comments (28)
  1. Phiilip says:

    I wish it were 1960 again and that I was a kid in this idiots class so I could watch my USMC Sgt/Maj father dismantle him before the school board. What on earth have we become my fellow Americans?

    1. Peter says:


  2. Hollywood Reporter says:

    What an A hole of a teacher.

    1. Mike says:

      This wacko should not be in a classroom—fire his butt.

  3. Peacetrain says:

    “Everybody has the right to their own beliefs, but they don’t have rights to impose those beliefs on other people…:
    It works both ways. Mr. Cuckovich, you don’t have a right to impose your belief that this common courtesy is disrespectful.
    In stead of banning AND imposing penalty, and since you opened the door, discuss what other common courtesy is used when people sneeze.

    1. Reader says:

      This was said by a parent opposed to the teacher, not by the teacher. The parent is correct and so are you in your suggestion. Broadly speaking, teachers are supposed to encourage tolerance among students. Students today know full well that sneezes have nothing to do with evil spirits and that “bless you” and “God bless you” are nothing more than good manners. Someone should teach this teacher some manners. For his information, the polite response would have been “thank you,” and no, this would not imply any agreement with the concept of a deity, evil spirits or anything else. Similarly, if his students wish him a merry christmas, the teacher would not be implying any personal assent to christian beliefs if he simply replies “same to you,” or “merry christmas to you too.” nor would he be promoting religion. His response would merely be customary and polite..

  4. T says:

    And imposing a 25 point penalty on any kid in any class over something that doesnt have anything to do with his grade point average or his ability to do his homework and pass a test is just plain WRONG ! Shame on you….

  5. Anna says:

    Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Because obviously over time, as Americans have desperately sought to put more and more distance between themselves and God, especially since the 1960’s, our country has gotten better! –More families stronger and more intact / lower crime rates / ever-shrinking OOW births / a plummet in STD cases / ever-growing fairness and honesty in the marketplace and overall economy / a better work ethic among younger generations / greater freedoms and liberties overall, in the face of a Constitutionally-contained federal government.

    1. Alpha Kenny Juan says:

      Jesus freak alert, Jesus freak alert.

      1. cloudnine says:

        Hey @Alpha Kenny Juan instead of yelling Jesus freak tell us how Anna is wrong. All that she said is true…Once God is out of the picture it all goes down hill…

    2. cloudnine says:

      Love your point..

  6. grammy says:

    For crying out loud!!!!! It’s called MANNERS!!!!!!!! And it’s pretty obvious that manners have been sacrificed on the alter of political correctness. Are they not allowed to say “Excuse me” if they fart in the classroom? Is that “disruptive,” too? Or maybe they just aren’t allowed to sneeze or fart…. Get real!

    I would yank my kid out of that class and threaten a class action suit against the school if it didn’t stop with an apology IMMEDIATELY. The school can only function if they have good attendance because they depend on ADA (average daily attendance) money from the state. The only thing that gets anyone’s attention anymore is to make a financial dent – that gets taken care of immediately.

    1. T says:

      I totally agree – I usually dont go to the trouble of making negative comments – but who let this guy in a classroom – you can bet if that was my child being affected by this – I would definately be seeking legal counsel – and find out what rights they actually do have when it comes to morals and classroom Etiquette and common courtesy… There are sooo many more important things to be concerned with – and this teacher picks at THAT ! again – shame on him !!!!

  7. William Shields says:

    It appears Mr Cuckovich has way too much time on his hands in class. He should focus on what he is being paid to do. Teaching is a gift, stupidity is a art and he is the van Gogh of the 21st Century. They actually give this guy a license to teach. what a joke

  8. Smokey says:

    Another wacked out liberal trying to mess up kids’ minds. I bet he is also a pervert.

    1. Chris says:

      Would it have been banned if the phrase were in Spanish?

  9. RALPH says:


  10. Daisy says:

    This guy should be transferred to a highschool in So. Central or East L.A. He’d have far bigger challenges in one of those schools with bigger issues to address than punishing a kid for saying “Bless you.”.
    P.S. He sorta resembles the character The Crypt Keeper.

  11. Michael J. McDermott says:

    Fire the faqot.

  12. Michael J. McDermott says:

    And, no turbans. The sight of those things offends me so.

  13. Mylitta Ritchie says:

    hello i go to ths school and everyone being disruptful was the reason stupid peole ( liars ) and media are making this a big lie and making our school look bad the teacher is nice and wants people to learn in class not set distractions for others to continue and make into some big thing ??? and evil spirit my butt jeez can people make stuff upp or what?

  14. derekcrane says:

    This guy reminds me of a joke Bill Cosby used to tell.

    A teacher in a classroom sees a group of students talking together in the back and asks, “What are you kids doing back there?”

    One of the students replies, “Telling dirty jokes!”

    Teacher replies, “That’s all right, I thought you were praying.”

  15. Buster Claim says:

    That reporter was super HOT!

  16. SisterLucy says:

    I’m guessing kids aren’t allowed to hold the door open for other kids either. That would waste too much time! Get real!

  17. Believer says:

    This is a ridiculous abuse of authority. I would bet this teacher has some sort of tenure or is close to retirement or he would not have dared challenge this benign custom in such a harmful manner as to penalize kids for observing it.

  18. Roxie says:

    How totally ridiculous! I was brought up saying “God Bless You” & continue to say it now! When I see this teacher’s name – possibly they used the wrong vowel & it should have been an “O” not a “U”! They should terminatee this person – what a poor example for his students & give the one student his 25 points back! What’s happening in this world! Did he ever hear of Freedom of Speech?????