FFRF and parents seek removal of Ten Commandments monuments in front of two Penn. public schools

FFRF and parents of children in two Pennsylvania public schools filed suits in September to remove Ten Commandments displays in front of the schools.

FFRF and two parents filed the first suit on Sept. 14, 2012, against the New Kensington-Arnold School District (Pa.) to challenge a six-foot-tall Ten Commandments monument in front of Valley High School. FFRF wrote to the District in March of 2012 requesting the monument be moved because it violated federal and Supreme Court precedent prohibiting the display of the decalogue in public schools. District officials defended the monument and refused to move it.

FFRF and a student's parent filed the second suit on Sept. 27, 2012, against the Connellsville Area School District (Pa.) in a challenge to a Ten Commandments monument in front of the District's junior high school. Plaintiffs FFRF and a parent of a student seek a declaration that the display is unconstitutional and an injunction requiring it to be moved, nominal damages and attorneys' fees and costs.

After FFRF objected, the Connellsville district initially indicated it would move the monument. Following intense public pressure, the school board voted on Sept. 12 to "delay any further action concerning moving the monument from its current location . . . until further notice and pending further legal action."

FFRF's complaint states that the continued presence of the Ten Commandments on district property is an unconstitutional advancement and endorsement of religion. The Connellsville case was transferred from Judge Cathy Bissoon on February 25, 2013 to Judge Terrence McVerry in the Pittsburgh Division of the Western District of Pennsylvania. FFRF's case against the New Kensington-Arnold School District is also before Judge McVerry. The suits will likely be joined into one. Pittsburgh-based attorney Marcus Schneider represents the plaintiffs.

Connellsville Area School District:
 
New Kensington-Arnold School District:
 
 
 
 

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