Consent Decree issued after Bossier Schools settle 1st Amendment lawsuit

Education
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A federal judge today put Bossier Parish School Board under a consent decree after it admitted it violated the First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution by endorsing and promoting religion in all its district-wide policies.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed federal lawsuit against Bossier Parish School Board in early 2018, and in the third amended complaint, which was addressed in the settlement, alleged Christianity was promoted throughout Bossier Public Schools, and after an almost year-long-legal dispute, the BPSO admitted some of the allegations put forth. 

In the Consent Decree Order, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Maurice Hicks Jr. pointed to the admissions made by the Bossier Parish School Board in a January 2019 agreement with the Plaintiffs. 

In that agreement, the School Board admitted some of its district-wide policies, practices, and customs endorsed and promoted religion, had the purpose of effect of advancing religion and/or coerced religious exercised either directly or indirectly, as alleged in the original Complaint, violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The Consent Decree places a permanent injunction on the School Board preventing the promotion or advancing of religion in schools and a detailed plan to implement and monitor the activities of the board.

In the order, which stated the “Plaintiffs prevailed,” the School Board will be required to pay all the Plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees, costs and litigation expenses. 

Although they settled the lawsuit, admitting some culpability, the Bossier Parish School Board sent out a news release this afternoon claiming victory for the students: 

‘We are pleased the Court has approved the parties’ agreement, which includes a revised policy that will now govern all issues concerning religion. The Bossier Parish School Board was insistent on a student’s right to exercise his or her religious freedoms not being adversely affected. The School Board was also adamant that employees not face punishment for bowing their heads out of respect when student prayer is offered.’

Click here to read the full consent decree. 

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