Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Settlement Filed In Louisiana Religion In Schools Case

Yesterday a settlement agreement was filed with a Louisiana federal district court in Does 1-4 v. Bossier Parish School Board.  In the case (see prior posting), plaintiffs claimed widespread Establishment Clause violations in classrooms at at school events.  As part of the settlement, the school board has adopted a revised religious expression policy.  KTBS News reports that both sides are stressing elements of the settlement that they consider victories:
Americans United said provisions of the settlement include:
  • Creation of a monitoring committee to review and resolve potential violations or disputes involving religious freedom.
  • An agreement by the School Board to create, expand or seek out appropriate facilities to minimize the need to hold school events in places of worship.
  • A commitment to protecting the rights of all Bossier students to pray in school, as long as the prayers are initiated by students, aren’t disruptive and don’t occur during class time.
  • Permission for Bossier teachers to teach about religion in an objective manner, but not proselytize students.
The School Board said the agreement also includes the following:
  • Students maintain the right to pray at school and at school events.
  • Students will be allowed to speak about religion at school events.
  • Does not penalize school employees who bow their heads when prayers are offered.
  • Allows teachers to teach about religion in an objective manner.
  • Allows student clubs of all kinds, including Fellowship of Christian Athletes, to continue to organize, meet and be active on campus.
  • Allows students to express their own ideas verbally and to distribute literature.
  • Allows employees to wear items of jewelry that include symbols associated with religion