Judge: Rankin schools violated religion policy, agreement

Jul 21, 2015

by Kate Royals

A judge has ruled against Rankin County School District in an order saying the district is in violation of an agreement stemming from a 2013 lawsuit filed by a student who said her First Amendment rights were violated.

U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves said in last week’s ruling that the district has since violated the policy it adopted to ensure its schools conformed with the First Amendment by holding an awards ceremony where a Christian reverend delivered a prayer and again when it assisted Gideons in distributing Bibles at an elementary school.

In 2013, a Northwest Rankin High School student sued the district and then-principal Charles Frazier over a series of Christian assemblies held at the school. The district agreed it had violated the student’s First Amendment rights and settled the lawsuit by entering into an agreement and paying the plaintiff’s attorney fees.

However, the incidents that took place in 2014 prompted the American Humanist Association to file a motion for contempt, accusing the district of not enforcing its Religion in Public Schools policy and abiding by the terms of the agreement.

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