According to local reports, a Fort Wayne school district may stop sending students to a religious instruction program on school property. A federal lawsuit has triggered the action by the school district. This after the school board president’s statement that it would be irresponsible for the district to defend themselves in a case where the standard has been previously set by prior court rulings.
In 2008, a similar case was brought before the court against Huntington Schools, where the judge ruled against the schools allowing religious activities on the grounds. In that case, the American Civil Liberties Union was issued a preliminary injunction.
The school board president, Mr. Mark GiaQuinta stated that it was both academically irresponsible and fiscally irresponsible to defend against the case. He stated that several board members agree with this decision.
The case involves a third grade student at Haley Elementary School. The parents of that student sued the district in US District Court in Fort Wayne. The parents stated that the school sent their child to an onsite trailer for Bible studies without their consent. The America Civil Liberties Union is helping to represent the child’s parents. The ACLU states that the action is an infringement on the First Amendment rights of the parents. The lawsuit asks that the judge rule the program unconstitutional and to ban it from operations on school property.
The program offered by the Associated Churches of Fort Wayne and Allen County has been established and operational since 1944. Students take part in Bible education during the school day in mobile classrooms. In some situations, 80 percent of the students will take part in the education, including those in the third, fourth and fifth grade.
Should the school board decide to pull the program, the case could be dismissed. However, assurance that such a program will not be on school grounds is necessary for this to happen.