Ohio district nixes Good News Club recruiters (May 2024)

FFRF fought to keep representatives of the Good News Club from recruiting elementary school students during their lunch hour in Jackson Local Schools in Massillon, Ohio.

A concerned parent reported that on Sept. 26, 2023, for the second year in a row, Lake Cable Elementary School allowed adult representatives of the Good News Club (GNC) to speak to students during the lunch hour in order to promote and encourage attendance at GNC. FFRF was informed that representatives had the opportunity to access and speak to over 400 students during the lunch period while on school property.

GNC representatives promised students, including the complainant’s children, that they would be given “candy and ice cream” if they joined the GNC. Lake Cable Elementary also sent a GNC permission slip home with students stating that the permission slip was to be completed and returned to the office secretary at Lake Cable Elementary.

“It is inappropriate and unconstitutional for [Jackson Local Schools] to offer religious representatives unique access to elementary school students in order to recruit and proselytize them,” FFRF Anne Nicol Gaylor Legal Fellow Sammi Lawrence wrote to the district.

John E. Britton, legal representative for the district, emailed FFRF, stating, “After reviewing the propriety of allowing this forum, the district determined (to their credit) to discontinue the practice altogether and have notified all groups, including the Good News Club, to that effect and without incident,” he wrote. “In other words, the district has put an end to allowing access to outside groups at the elementary buildings during the school day (as is already the case in all other buildings).”

Freedom From Religion Foundation