FFRF was pleased to recently discover a hidden victory for state-church separation in an eastern Texas school district.
Back in 2014, FFRF was informed by a concerned community member of the Mt. Vernon Independent School District that the district was displaying several religious quotes on the walls of its schools. The quotes included both biblical passages and alleged statements attributed to a variety of prominent individuals in American history. After seeking and obtaining an open records request in 2015 for a copy of all records related to the selection and display of the quotes on the district’s walls, FFRF found that a significant portion of the quotes on display were not only unconstitutionally endorsing religion, but also fallacious.
FFRF Associate Counsel Sam Grover wrote to Mt. Vernon Independent School District Superintendent John Kaufman, requesting that the district remove the quotes. Courts have time and again held that public schools may not endorse religious messages — including texts taken from the bible.
The original complainant informed Grover that a new superintendent who was hired soon after FFRF sent its 2015 letter to the district quietly removed the religious quotes over the summer of 2016.
FFRF is thrilled that this assault on the right of conscience of Mt. Vernon students has been rectified.
“We don’t always know the full extent of our impact, but it is vast,” says Grover.