Allen v. School Bord for Santa Rosa County, Florida, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56853 (ND FL, May 20, 2011), is another installment in the long-running litigation over religious practices in the Santa Rosa county schools. In 2010, a large group of parents, teachers, and students sought to enjoin the Santa Rosa school board and superintendent from enforcing a consent decree they entered in 2009 barring various religious practices in the schools. Plaintiffs claim that the consent decree violates their First Amendment rights and that it is now unenforceable because the original plaintiffs have graduated high school. (See prior posting.) In the current decision, the court concluded that under doctrines of res judicata teachers and official parent volunteers and chaperones, while acting in their official capacities, are precluded from bringing a facial attack seeking to invalidate the entire consent decree or enjoin enforcement of it in its entirety. The court went on however to allow a more limited attack on the interpretation and application of the decree to private conduct of parents and teachers:
The plaintiffs have raised plausible claims that their individual rights based on private nonofficial conduct are being violated due to the manner in which the consent decree is being implemented or due to portions of the consent decree that they allege to be overly broad... These challenges are not barred by res judicata.... Any remedy that would require the court to impose a narrowing construction on a particular definition within the consent decree to ensure it is constitutionally applied, or that would require enjoining particular enforcement conduct by the School Board, will not invalidate the consent decree in its entirety.
[T]he remaining plaintiffs [other than teachers and parent chaperones] lack standing to seek to undo the consent decree in its entirety because they have no interest in the school's regulation of its employees' official-capacity conduct, except to the extent that the regulation of official conduct adversely impacts their own constitutional rights as private citizens in some specific manner.