Please let the school committee in Cranston, R.I. know that the nation is watching them. Join FFRF (read FFRF's letter here) in urging the committee to do the right thing, and not appeal the Jan. 11 federal appeals court ruling in Jessica Ahlquist's favor. Please take a moment to contact the school committee now, when it counts. The Cranston School Committee is meeting and holding a public hearing on whether to appeal the ruling at 6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 16. Send a quick email or message urging them not to appeal the ruling.
The 16-year-old sued over an unconstitutional prayer banner hanging at her high school. In ruling in Jessica’s favor, the judge noted that she “is clearly an articulate and courageous young woman, who took a brave stand, particularly in light of the hostile response she has received from her community.” Jessica, after numerous threats, has had to go to school with police escort! Her state representative called her "an evil little thing" on the radio. Her mayor has spoken against her challenge. She is such a persona non grata in her community that FFRF could not find a nearby floral shop willing to deliver our flowers to her! (See links below).
That the situation has gotten so out of hand is the fault of the school board, which should never have defended the unconstitutional prayer banner. In eking out its decision whether or not to appeal, the board has made Jessica Ahlquist a lightning rod for public opprobrium. It's time for the school board to recognize its role in fomenting community hostility, to stand up for the Constitution and the rights of a teenager. The Rhode Island Chapter of the ACLU, which brought the suit on Jessica's behalf, has already filed a request for repayment of attorney's fees in the amount of $173,000. It is morally wrong and fiscal insanity to consider appealing the ruling.
Please write the Superintendent and Committee Chairperson, and "cc" the others. (Only personal email and phone numbers of Committee members are listed by the school website.)
Cranston School Committee
*Peter Nero - Superintendent
*Andrea M. Iannazzi - Chairperson
Home Tel: 401-935-2411
Frank S. Lombardi - Clerk
Home Tel: 401-942-9774
Home Tel: 401-447-3976
Home Tel: 401-781-2119
Home Tel: 401-944-5802
Home Tel: 401-944-4832
Michael A. Traficante
Home Tel: 401-943-0026
ATTEND SCHOOL BOARD MEETING
If you live in the New England area, you may wish to attend and speak at the hearing. FFRF'ers will be there along with Humanists of Rhode Island, including Ellery Schempp. Ellery, as a high school student, started the famed Abington v. Schempp case in which the Supreme Court decision declared bible readings in schools unconstitutional.
Cranston School Committee Meeting - Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012
Cranston High School East
899 Park Avenue
TALKING POINTS TO SCHOOL COMMITTEE
Feel free to cut and paste. Better yet, use your own words. One or two sentences is effective:
Do not appeal the sound decision of U.S. District Judge Ronald Lagueux, against a prayer banner at Cranston East High. It is the duty of the school board to protect taxpayers' money from a costly losing battle, but even more to put a stop to an increasingly nasty religious crusade against one district student. Join one brave teenager in standing up for principles which protect us all. The treatment Jessica Ahlquist has endured is an object lesson in why religion and prayer do not belong our public schools. In voting against appealing, you are voting to uphold the freedom of conscience so precious to Rhode Island's founder, Roger Williams.
Providence Journal: "School Committee moves meeting to talk about prayer banner to Cranston East."
New York Times: "Student Faces Town’s Wrath in Protest Against a Prayer."
Jessica Ahlquist News Releases
Thank you for your support!
For maximum effectiveness be succinct and write as an individual, not as a member of FFRF. We are pleased to receive "blind" ("BCC") copies of your messages and correspondence by email at .