FFRF, students, bring suit over graduation and school board prayers

FFRF and one of its South Carolina members filed suit on May 30, 2012, against School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties challenging a District policy that sanctions graduation prayers. Matthew Nielson, a graduating senior from Irmo High School, objected to the prayer and is a plaintiff in the suit.

A district policy titled "School Ceremonies and Observations" sets guidelines for benedictions and invocations at graduations and athletic events: Use of prayer "will be determined by a majority vote of the graduating senior class with the advice and counsel of the principal." The school facilitated a vote by students earlier in the year and the graduation ceremony on May 30, 2012, contained a prayer.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a similar vote on whether to host prayer at school events violated the Establishment Clause in the case Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe.

Two other Irmo High School students joined the suit on June 11, 2012. FFRF and the students, represented by South Carolina counsel Aaron Kozloski, ask the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina to declare the District's policy null and void, enjoin the District from further school-sponsored graduation prayers and to award damages, costs, and attorney fees. On Nov. 16, 2012, the plaintiffs amended the suit to also challenge prayers before Board of Trustees meetings.

Judge Cameron McGowan Currie presides over the case.

Links:

Complaint

Amended Complaint

Second Amended Complaint

Answer

FFRF Summary Judgment Brief

District Summary Judgment Brief

District Summary Judgment Response Brief

FFRF Summary Judgment Response Brief

 

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