AHA Settles Proselytization Suit With Georgia High School

The Hall County School District in Gainesville, Georgia has agreed to stop allowing its football coach to pray with and proselytize his players and to inform all school personnel of what they can and cannot do under the First Amendment. The American Humanist Association filed the suit and reacts to the settlement:

Today the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center reached a favorable settlement in its lawsuit against the Hall County School District in Gainesville, Georgia, which challenged the district’s promotion of prayer and Christianity through its athletics programs, including its Chestatee High School football program.

“This is a victory for the separation of church and state,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “When public schools remain secular, they uphold the rights of all students to learn, free from unnecessary religious intrusion.”

Under the settlement, the school superintendent will issue a memorandum detailing the standards for religious neutrality required by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and the Equal Access Act to the principals in all of its 36 schools. The district will host a training session before the start of the school year for administrators, who will educate staff and coaches on their constitutional duties. The district also agrees to pay the American Humanist Association’s legal fees of $22,500.

“We are pleased that the district is taking productive steps forward to ensure compliance with the Constitution, and we expect that it will stop the student-staff prayer activities and other problematic conduct,” said David Niose, legal director of the American Humanist Association.

The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent two letters to the district in August 2014, complaining of the infusion of religion into the school’s sports programs. The American Humanist Association also submitted photographs of coaches leading students in prayer, student football players joining hands in a prayer circle, and banners displaying Christian scripture. The district failed to respond adequately, and after numerous complaints from students and parents, the Appignani Humanist Legal Center filed a lawsuit in December 2014.

And another school comes to its senses, but only after being sued. Now if we could do the same thing about 5000 more times, students might actually be able to go to school without being harangued about someone else’s religious beliefs.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • whheydt

    I wonder if their insurance carrier had anything to do with the settlement. (I.e. Told them settle on those terms or we won’t cover the eventual, much larger, costs.)

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    “When public schools remain secular, they uphold the rights of all students to learn, free from unnecessary religious intrusion.”

    It’s hardly “unnecessary”. If the team doesn’t pray before the Big Game, how will Jesus know which side to help?

     

    And another school comes to its senses, but only after being sued. Now if we could do the same thing about 5000 more times, students might actually be able to go to school without being harangued about someone else’s religious beliefs.

    But they aren’t someone else’s religious beliefs. They’re mine. As always, Ed, you’re on the wrong side of Religious Liberty issues.

  • John Pieret

    Whheydt:

    The insurance company almost certainly insisted. I read elsewhere that it paid the $22,500 costs of the AHA , not the school.

  • samgardner

    It depresses me that so many schools, when faced with this kind of action, have as a first response to dig in and insist they’re in the right. Why ins’t educating staff on their Constitutional duties something the school already does? Why does it only come about begrudgingly after a lawsuit?

  • John Pieret

    so many schools, when faced with this kind of action, have as a first response to dig in and insist they’re in the right

    To be fair, the school superintendent, back when this first came up, was saying that teachers and coaches should not be leading students in prayers or requiring or pressuring students to participate in religious activities.

    http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/hall-county-superintendent-says-faculty-led-prayer/ng5cz/

    Whether that was just for show or whether he couldn’t discipline the coaches because the school board wouldn’t allow it I don’t know but his just saying it put a lot of pressure on the school board to put an end to it.

  • Synfandel

    And why didn’t the teachers and coaches learn enough about the constitution when they were students (in public school and in teachers’ college) to know that they shouldn’t be pulling this crap?

  • tsig

    Their commitment to Christ is as deep as their insurance coverage.

    Greater love than this no man has, that he will sacrifice his insurance for me.

  • Trebuchet

    More Christians being persecuted for the beliefs. Because Satan. Or Obama. Or maybe both of those are the same.

  • moarscienceplz

    Under the settlement, the school superintendent will issue a memorandum detailing the standards for religious neutrality required by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and the Equal Access Act to the principals in all of its 36 schools. The district will host a training session before the start of the school year for administrators, who will educate staff and coaches on their constitutional duties.

    If that insurance company was smart, they’d make this an annual requirement of coverage for every school district.