Court Approves School District's Settlement of Lawsuit by Christian Group

Feb 5, 2009

Cobb County, GA – On Wednesday, a federal court approved a settlement of a lawsuit filed by Liberty Counsel on behalf of Child Evangelism Fellowship of Georgia (CEF) against Cobb County School District. The District had a discriminatory policy that denied equal access to religious groups. Liberty Counsel filed the case in January and requested an immediate court hearing on the basis that the District policy is unconstitutional and is causing irreparable harm in violation of the First Amendment.

As the hearing was soon approaching, the District agreed to settle the case and entered into a Consent Decree which the federal court approved on February 4th. Under the settlement, the District will repay CEF the overcharged fees it collected for use of the facilities, pay attorney’s fees and costs, and grant CEF equal access to District facilities, in terms of free use and time of use, as is granted to similar organizations.

Prior to the settlement the District charged CEF a discriminatory fee for its Good News Clubs to use school facilities after school. The District’s policy also discriminated against CEF in terms of the time the Christian group was permitted to use the facilities compared to similar secular groups. District officials permitted other groups to use the facility immediately after school but pushed CEF to a time after 5:45 pm, which meant that children were unable to attend the Good News Club.

Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: “We are pleased that the school district responded quickly after the lawsuit was filed to settle this case. Equal access is the law, and equal access means equal treatment in every respect. Equal access applies to use of the facilities, fees for use, the time of meetings and advertisements for the meetings. Good News Clubs are great for children. The children and the parents are the real winners in this settlement.”