Pennsylvania School District Spent $64,000 Defending Illegal Ten Commandments Monument

This past August, we learned the fate of a Ten Commandments monument that had been outside Connellsville Junior High East in Pennsylvania since 1957:

You can read a longer history here, but the short version is that a judge ruled that the monument’s placement outside a public school was unconstitutional. It was an endorsement of religion, plain and simple.

However, because the student whose family filed the lawsuit no longer attended the school — that happens when these cases drag on for years — it was all moot. Therefore, there was no obligation for the Connellsville Area School District to remove the monument.

So it was an incomplete victory. On paper, church/state separation groups got everything they wanted… but nothing really changed. It would take another student (and perhaps a quicker legal process) to force the monument to come down.

But weeks after that decision was handed down, the Connellsville Area school directors, knowing the monument was illegal and would be declared so in the future, decided to avoid any further litigation by voluntarily removing the Ten Commandments from the property.

It only took six decades for them to figure it all out.

But here’s the kicker: The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review obtained documentation showing that the District spent $64,000 fighting this unnecessary battle:

Bills obtained through a public records request by the Tribune-Review show that the Pittsburgh law firm Andrews & Price billed the district’s insurance carrier for 400 hours of work related to the lawsuit between October 2012 and December 2014. Solicitor Chris Stern said the bills would be paid by the carrier, School Claims Insurance LLC of New Cumberland.

The most costly bill — for 100 hours amounting to $15,351 — accounted for work between July and October 2013. During that period, attorneys held several meetings with school officials and prepared numerous court documents for the case, according to the detailed bills. Information about how the claim would impact the district’s insurance coverage costs was not available Monday.

It’s true the insurance will cover the costs, but that insurance will presumably cost a lot more in the future — and that’s money that won’t be spent on students.

If they had heeded the warning of church/state separation groups and just taken down the monument years ago, they could have avoided all of this.

Meanwhile, the parent group advocating for administrators to keep the Ten Commandments in place doesn’t give a damn about the costs — which makes sense, since their religious battle was never about doing what’s in the best interests of the students:

“It doesn’t matter what the cost was, it was a fight that needed to be fought,” said David Show of the grassroots organization Thou Shall Not Move. “That’s something that should not be a problem in our schools.”

Of course he would say that. He’s not the one footing the bill.

(Thanks to Brian for the link. Large portions of this article were published earlier)

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