Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Mississippi School District Held In Contempt Of Decree On Religion In Schools

In M.B. v. Rankin County School District, (SD MS, July 10, 2015), a Mississippi federal district court held that the Rankin County, Mississippi, School District has willfully violated a 2013 consent decree in which it was ordered to comply with a newly adopted policy on Religion in Public Schools. (See prior posting.) The consent decree was entered in response to complaints about school assemblies that promoted Christianity. The current finding of a violation of the decree was triggered by a district-wide awards ceremony honoring students who did well on their ACT test at which a Christian minister offered a sectarian prayer as part of the ceremonies. The school in another violation assisted the Gideons in distributing Bibles to elementary school students. Finding the district in contempt, the court ordered it to pay $7500 in damages to the student filing the contempt petition, and ordered a fine of $10,000 per infraction for any future violations. American Humanist Association issued a press release announcing the decision and linking to its Memorandum of Law that was filed in support of plaintiff's motion for civil contempt.