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Freethought Today · June/July 2017

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

California school board appeals FFRF’s suit win

The Chino Valley Unified School Board has filed an appeal after losing a lawsuit to FFRF over board members' practice of praying during meetings.

The board voted 3-2 to appeal FFRF's win, claiming that a district court judge's attempt to curtail prayer is a violation of their First Amendment rights. The appeal was filed April 26 in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal.

"We are requesting reversal of the order in its entirety," said Robert Tyler of Tyler & Bursch law firm, which is handling the case for the board members.

FFRF sued the School Board in November 2014, noting when board members invoke God's name and pray, they violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Last year, U.S. District Judge Jesus Bernal agreed, demanding board members desist from "reciting prayers, bible readings and proselytizing at board meetings."

According to the original suit filed by FFRF, board member James Na "often injects religion into his comments" at the ends of meetings, and board member Andrew Cruz regularly closed meetings with a bible reading, in addition to the prayers used to open meeting.

After losing at the district court level, the school district was on the hook for nearly $200,000 in legal fees. Chino Valley Unified serves nearly 30,000 students.