American Humanist Association Takes Mississippi School District to Court Again for Violating Religion Policy
The Rankin County School District allowed Gideons to distribute Bibles and hosted an awards ceremony that included a prayer delivered by a reverend.
In 2013, a Northwest Rankin High School student took the district to court for violating the First Amendment of their students. In 2013, the school hosted a variety of Christian assemblies under Charles Frazier, the principal at the time. The district agreed to settle at the time, saying that they had indeed violated the First Amendment. They entered into a Religion Policy Agreement at the time, as well as covered the student’s attorney fees. The district is back in court for violating their religion policy agreement by hosting an awards ceremony that contained a reverend delivering prayer. In addition, they Gideons to distribute bibles at their elementary schools. U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves agreed that these violated the agreement.
Incidences of First Amendment Violation
In 2014, the Rankin County School District in Mississippi committed multiple acts that violated their agreement made upon the lawsuit in 2013. The American Humanist Association took them to court for contempt and failing to enforce the Religion in Public Schools policy, thus violating their agreement terms. In response, the district claimed that the ceremony wasn’t mandatory, and, even if it were, they shouldn’t be held liable as officials weren’t expected to know the constitutional law. Each of these arguments, said Judge Reeves, were hardly solid under a little bit of looking.
Judge finds Rankin County School District in contempt over violation of religion policy, agreement. "The district… http://t.co/Qu80s303iX
— America's Hope (@Americas_Hope) July 14, 2015
The released order states that the district must ensure “future compliance with provisions of its newly adopted policy on religion.” Should the district fail to do so, and have future incidents taken to court, they will have to pay $10,000 per incident for each plaintiff. In addition, they had to pay the plaintiff $7,500, as well as the attorney fees. They have been prohibited from incorporating religion or prayer at school events. The attorney at Appignani Humanist Legal Center, Monica Miller, said that this order “vindicates our client’s first amendment freedoms and seeks to ensure that the school district will comply with the Constitution” and stop endorsing religious practices at school.