The Giles County School Board, unbelievably, voted 5 to 0 this afternoon to return Ten Commandment postings to school walls. The Board overruled a responsible decision by its superintendent to remove unlawful postings of the Ten Commandments from county schools, following an FFRF complaint. (See the superintendent's response to FFRF.)
"It is so disheartening to see public officials in Virginia — the state that produced Madison and Jefferson — directly flout the law and violate the constitutionally required separation between religion and government," said Annie Laurie Gaylor, Foundation co-president.
The Supreme Court explicitly ruled in Stone v. Graham (1980), against schoolroom postings of the Ten Commandments: "The pre-eminent purpose for posting the Ten Commandments on schoolroom walls is plainly religious in nature."
Following FFRF attorney Patrick Elliott's letter of Dec. 8, 2010 about a display at Macy McClaugherty School in Pearisburg, Va., Superintendent Terry E. Arbogast, II, replied, saying the display would be removed. The superintendent also removed Ten Commandments displays from other Giles County schools, and replaced them with copies of the Declaration of Independence.
"This was such a rational outcome, and it is shocking to learn what this rogue school board has done," Gaylor said.
Gaylor invites any parents with children in the public schools in Giles County who might consider serving as plaintiffs to contact FFRF at 608/256-8900. Gaylor said the group would seek a protective order to protect the identify of families involved. But she added: "When the Supreme Court has spoken directly to this violation, it should not be necessary to keep fighting the same battle!"