MS School Settles Church/State Case

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.

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  • beezlebubby

    Finally, administrators that learned to listen to their own legal counsel and consider precedents. They got off cheap, which is great for the students and taxpayers.

  • eamick

    I wonder how long it will take the school to retaliate against the plaintiffs, and how creative their retaliation will be.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    How often do you get to hear a high-schooler congratulate her county school board on their “maturity”?

  • Trebuchet

    @2: The school district seems more sensible than many, and will probably not retaliate. The community, however, has probably been retaliating for some time. And you can expect the usual suspects to be screaming about persecution of Christians any moment now.

  • acroyear

    @4 – just more fodder for Mr. Brayton’s book, I suppose…

  • gshelley

    As always in cases like this, I wonder what sort of legal advice they were getting that they decided to take it this far

  • freehand

    gshelley: As always in cases like this, I wonder what sort of legal advice they were getting that they decided to take it this far

    “If we pray really, really, hard, maybe Jesus will make that pesky constitution go away.”

  • Ichthyic

    pretty tired of xians claiming religious persecution simply because they aren’t allowed to insert themselves into EVERY ASPECT OF HUMAN LIFE.

    seriously, xians, nobody is closing your churches, nobody is closing your sunday schools, nobody is interfering with you being a xian.

    it;s YOU who are interfering with everyone else.

    pound it into yer thick heads: the days of xian privilege are finally coming to an end. About 400 years later than it should have, IMO.

    this, for the one or two xians who actually read Ed’s blog. :)