You probably remember the lawsuit filed against the public school system in Rankin County, Mississippi over mandatory school assemblies where ministers came in and preached at students, among many other allegations of obvious wrongdoing. The school has now settled that case and agreed to change its policy to prevent such things from happening again.
A judgment has been entered by a federal court in a case brought by the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center on behalf of a student at a Rankin County, Mississippi high school challenging the proselytizing religious assemblies it staged for students earlier this year. The lawsuit was filed April 24, 2013 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi against administrators of Northwest Rankin High School in Flowood, MS and the county school district.
The judgment includes an admission of liability by the defendants that they violated the Establishment Clause, the provision of the Constitution that requires separation of church and state. It also requires the school district to comply with a new policy that prohibits future such violations and orders the defendants to pay the plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees.
“A lot has been accomplished and I’m pleased with the outcome of the suit,” said Magdalene “Gracie” Bedi, the student plaintiff in the case. “I’m grateful for the school’s maturity throughout this ordeal and I look forward to graduating with them on a positive note. No one should have to question their rights in a public school and I think Northwest [Rankin High School] realizes this now.”
The school’s new policy forbids such assemblies. The school also agreed to pay $15,000 in legal fees. Good on them for backing down in a case they would have certainly lost, costing them far more money.