PENSACOLA (FBW) – A two-year battle over a “Consent Decree” limiting religious freedom of students and teachers in Santa Rosa School District has been settled, Liberty Counsel announced July 1.
The dispute centers a 2009 Consent Decree entered into by the school district in concert with and under pressure of the American Civil Liberties Union. The decree resulted in criminal indictments against school officials and banned “God bless” and certain other actions by school district employees and students.
Liberty Counsel, representing Christian Educators Association International, filed suit against the Consent Decree, arguing it greatly diminished religious freedom in the school district.
“Faced with an imminent trial and damning evidence of their constitutional violations, the ACLU and the Santa Rosa School District have agreed to settle Liberty Counsel’s federal lawsuit, challenging the Consent Decree on behalf of 24 students, teachers, parents and community members,” LC said in a July 1 news release.
An amended Consent Decree will “restore dozens of constitutional religious freedoms that were previously denied,” and LC and CEAI will be awarded $265,000 in attorney’s fees and costs from an insurance provider, LC reported.
The settlement awaits approval by the school board and court.
“As a result of this settlement, Liberty Counsel’s clients who are teachers will now be able to pray at school during their break times, pray during school events in a nonofficial capacity, attend and fully participate in baccalaureate services, have a Bible on their desk, wear religious jewelry, and assign readings from the Bible to students when relevant to nonreligious academic assignments,” the news release reports.
The settlement will also permit various religious activities by students, according to LC.
“We are pleased that freedom has been restored to Santa Rosa County,” LC founder Mathew Staver said in the news release. “It is appropriate to celebrate these restored freedoms as America celebrates Independence Day. From the beginning we contended that this Consent Decree went too far and swallowed up the rights of teachers, staff, students and members of the community. The Constitution is not some relic that can be discarded at will.”
A “Victory Rally and Celebration” will be held on July 6, 7-9 pm at Pace Assembly Ministries, 3948 Highway 90, Pace. Tickets are required for the free event. For more information, go to: www.LC.org.
You must be login before you can leave a comment. Click here to Register if you are a new user.