May 13, 2014

Christian Students Win Equal Access


LC.org

Leesburg, FL - Last night the Lake County, Florida, School Board voted unanimously to enter into a Consent Decree granting the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) at Mount Dora High School the same rights as other non-curricular student clubs. Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit earlier this spring and sought a preliminary injunction to immediately end the district’s longstanding discriminatory treatment of FCA. The Consent Decree will be submitted to the federal court in Ocala for approval.

If approved by the court, the Consent Decree will grant FCA 100% of the injunctive relief it sought in the litigation and will require the district to permanently grant the following benefits to FCA, on the same terms as they are granted to all other non-curricular high school clubs:

• Access to the public address system for club announcements,
• Access to bulletin boards and school marquee for club announcements,
• Permission to post club flyers and information in and around classrooms where FCA meets,
• A club webpage on the district’s website,
• Permission for club members to wear a colored cord at graduation to signify club membership, and
• Inclusion of the club in the school yearbook.

As approved by the school board, the Consent Decree also establishes that the district violated the constitutional and statutory rights of FCA and its members by denying them these benefits. The Consent Decree requires the district to pay $315 in damages for these violations, as well as the substantial attorney’s fees required to correct its conduct.

“Public schools cannot treat Christian students as constitutional orphans,” said Horatio Mihet, Senior Litigation Counsel at Liberty Counsel.

“It is a shame that the school board stubbornly refused for several years to listen to reason and forced FCA to file a lawsuit to vindicate its right to equal access and equal treatment,” added Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel.

“We are thrilled to return the Constitution from exile in Lake County Schools,” concluded Mihet.

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.

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