Fayette R-III settles lawsuit alleging school promotion of Christianity

Jun 13, 2014

The Fayette R-III School District will be making several changes to its school policy after a lawsuit from a national organization. The American Humanist Association settled a lawsuit with the school district regarding alleged violations of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

The AHA says the school district unfairly promoted Christianity over the intercom before school started in a way that made non-Christians feel inferior. Fayette Superintendent Tamara Kimball said in a press release she does not believe the announcement before school intended to endorse religious activity, but AHA Legal Director David Niose disagrees.

"It's very well established that schools can't be promoting prayers or sponsoring prayers or anything like that, so to get over the intercom and say 'Morning devotionals are occurring down at Mrs. So-and-so's room,' that's just not appropriate,” Niose said.

Niose says the settlement was a success and does not expect further conflict with Fayette.

"The school seems to understand that it crossed the line, that it wasn't doing things right and that going forward, it intends to remedy that situation,” Niose said.

Kimball, though, said in a press release that the district determined virtually every allegation made by the AHA in the lawsuit was false, misleading, or taken out-of-context.

The terms of the settlement require the school to cease all promotions of prayer and religious activities as well as revoke all special privileges not given to other school clubs. Faculty sponsors of student groups are prohibited from participating in religious activities of the groups and school employees must keep religious materials out of clear sight.

Kimball's secretary says Kimball is out of the office until June 16. No one else was made available for comment.