Written by Don Byrd
Earlier this year, school officials in Louisiana’s Webster Parish announced a settlement to resolve litigation brought by plaintiffs alleging sweeping church-state violations in public schools. At the same time, Bossier Parish schools were reportedly in negotiations to address a similar lawsuit. But, apparently, not any more, after the board voted unanimously to fight the lawsuit and end settlement talks.
The Shreveport Times reports:
The Bossier Parish School Board on Tuesday voted in special session to move forward in court as it faces the lawsuit, which alleges improper endorsement of religion in Bossier schools.
And a lawyer for the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, which represents the plaintiffs in the case, said the move was “unfortunate.”
“The school district is going to spend more and more and more taxpayer dollars trying to defend something that can’t be defended,” said legal director Richard Katskee. “They’re going to draw it out, and that will cost the people of Bossier more money.”
The board may have been moved to press ahead with this federal lawsuit after receiving an order from a state court to return an advertisement with a religious message to the football field. The district removed the ad precisely to avoid the appearance of promoting religion and for its trouble found itself on the receiving end of a First Amendment claim. What’s a school district to do?