Ohio district takes FFRF’s flier advice (June 21, 2011)

The Garfield Heights City School District in Ohio settled a lawsuit filed against it by the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group based in Arizona. The suit, brought by ADF on behalf of a mother’s group, alleged that the group’s free-speech rights were violated when Maple Leaf Intermediate School declined to distribute fliers and permission slips promoting after-school Christian programs. In previous years, the school was the subject of several FFRF complaints about staff unconstitutionally sponsoring a “field trip” to a nearby church during the school day. Superintendent Linda Reid canceled the field trip last year after an FFRF complaint. Reid drew the ire of the mother’s group this year when she also declined to distribute fliers for their after-school bible themed events.

In a May 2011 letter, FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor suggested a solution to the lawsuit. Gaylor noted that problems arise when teachers distribute religious fliers: “I encourage you to consider amending the district’s policies so that only district-sponsored announcements are sent home with students. This avoids the difficult First Amendment issues that arise when the school becomes involved in distributing materials for other groups.” The district, taking that advice, agreed in the settlement with ADF to amend school policy so that outside groups won’t be able to send fliers home with students. Groups can place limited quantities of fliers in the school office. The district also agreed to pay $3,000 to ADF attorneys to settle the suit, which was dismissed June 21.

Freedom From Religion Foundation