Published On: Tue, Oct 16th, 2012

Minnesota school district loses lawsuit over attempt to ban Christian club

The board for the Minneapolis Special School District No. 1 approved a settlement on Tuesday that will cost the district $100,000 in legal fees, the Star Tribune reports, and could open the door for similar clubs to gather in the district’s schools as well.

Photo/Nodar Kherkheulidze via wikimedia commons

A ruling in federal appeals court found that the district “committed viewpoint discrimination” by now allowing a Christian club as part of an elementary school’s after-school activities program.

“To avoid the time and expense of further litigation, and without admitting any liability, the District is recommending the Board approve a stipulation that would allow the Good News Club to participate in the after school program on an equal basis,” Bernadeia H. Johnson, superintendent of schools, wrote in a recommendation to the school board.

“The District also agrees to pay CEF one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00) for attorney fees, and costs of $621.90. CEF prepared a petition for attorney fees claiming $134,000 in fees and other $4000 in costs. Based on the analysis of counsel, it is likely that the court would have approved that amount, with perhaps a slight discount,” Johnson added.

In August, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit voted 3-0 to overturn a district court’s previous ruling in favor of the school district.

The court of appeals said the school district discriminated against the Good News Club, a program sponsored by Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF), when it decided the club could no longer be a part of the after-school program at Jenny Lind Elementary School because of the club’s religious content.

“The Supreme Court and our court have both consistently held that this type of speech [by the Good News Club] is private speech, not school sponsored,” the 8th Circuit court said. “Following this precedent, we hold that CEF’s meetings, even as part of the after-school program, are not school sponsored.”


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