Greenville County School District settles in prayer lawsuit

Local News

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)- In 2013, The American Humanist Association filed a lawsuit on behalf of parents of a Mountain View Elementary School student against the Greenville County School District.

The lawsuit claims two students were asked to pray at a graduation ceremony, which they say is a violation of the separation of church and state.

The lawsuit has gone on for seven years, expanding to include instances of student prayers at graduations in 2017 and 2018.

Attorney John Reckenbeil explained Judge Bruce Hendricks ordered the district to pay $450,000 in attorney fees and other expenses.

However, just this week the school board came back with a settlement, which is hundreds of thousands less at $187,000.

Reckenbeil says, he sees a problem with this.

“You’re gonna have the court look at this with skepticism because it’s gone on for so long and they told you twice what to do and now you’re coming back a third time and saying ok here we go again,” Reckenbeil said.

The district released a statement saying it was defending the free speech rights of students, saying the Humanist Association’s original demand to ban student prayer was “Hostile to religious expression as protected by the constitution.”

Reckenbiel disagrees.

“Here in the south where you have predominantly Christians,” Reckenbiel said. “You cannot then say I’m going to suppress, I’m going to trounce on those people who are not Catholic who are not Christian. That’s what the constitution protects and that’s why this is so important.”

The settlement still has to be approved by the Federal Court and if it’s not the appeal will continue to the fourth circuit.

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