Thursday, December 11, 2014

Challenge To School Board Invocation Policy Dismissed On Standing Grounds

WIS-TV News reported yesterday on the dismissal by a Wisconsin federal district court of a challenge to the invocation policy at school board meetings in School District Five of Lexington & Richland Counties, Wisconsin.  The suit originally also challenged the District's policy on prayer at graduation (see prior posting), but the parties previously settled that claim after the school district revised its policy to allow student speakers to determine the content of their own messages. Then in Nielson v. School District Five of Lexington & Richland Counties, (D SC, Oct. 22, 2014), the federal district court dismissed claims seeking an injunction and declaratory judgment as to the school board invocations because "none of the Individual Plaintiffs attended a Board Meeting after the August 2013 Invocation Policy became effective and none remain students in District Five."  The court added, however, that plaintiffs could still pursue damage claims growing out of pre-2013 prayer practices.  But on Dec. 1, the court ordered dismissal of the action without prejudice, noting that the parties had settled the case. (Full text of dismissal order.)