Saturday, September 29, 2007

School Clubs

Apparently a high school here in Virginia will allow on campus all sort of clubs, but not a pro-life one. Excerpt from this article in the September 29, 2007 Washington Times:
STAFFORD, Va. (AP) — A Colonial Forge High School student has filed a lawsuit against Stafford County's public-school system for refusing to let her start a pro-life club.


Colonial Forge Principal Lisa Martin denied the request for the club, saying it doesn't relate to the curriculum.


"That strikes me as a weaselly way to avoid creating a controversial club," George Mason University law professor David Bernstein said....
The law suit was filed in federal court on September 12. The Alliance Defense Fund is representing the student at no cost and is also asking that the school district pay legal fees. Information about this case, from ADF's web site (emphasis mine):
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed a lawsuit Wednesday after a Virginia school denied official recognition to a student pro-life club but granted official recognition to student groups that focus on other issues.

“Christian and pro-life students cannot be treated as second-class citizens on campus. The student we represent wanted to start a pro-life club at her school, just as other students have been allowed to start their own clubs, yet school officials denied her and not the others,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman. “Under the law, school officials cannot discriminate on the basis of an arbitrary decision about the worthiness of the club’s subject matter.”

The student, who attends Colonial Forge High School, wanted to start a pro-life student club on campus and applied for her club to become officially recognized by the school. Officially recognized student clubs enjoy privileges such as access to the school newspaper, bulletin boards, and the public announcement system, as well as being able to participate in student activities programs and club fairs.

Stafford County School officials denied the student’s application, stating that her pro-life club “does not meet the standard of a direct curricular link.” But no policy exists that requires clubs to be curriculum-related, nor are there any guidelines that govern how such a determination is made.

The Stafford County School granted official recognition to other student groups that do not appear to have a “direct curricular link” on campuses within its district, including Young Democrats, Students Against Destructive Decisions, and Key Club.

“Because of the lack of a clear policy outlining how student clubs are granted official recognition, certain school and district officials have been given unaccountable discretion to determine which clubs are approved and which are not,” Cortman explained. “Their denial of this pro-life student club is inconsistent and unconstitutional.”...
For what it's worth, I predict that the case may never reach court. Typically, schools will do almost anything to avoid the legal loop. From the article in the Washington Times article:
...Schools spokeswoman Valerie Cottongim said school officials do not comment on pending litigation.

Stafford County School Board chairman Robert Belman also declined to comment because the entire board has not discussed the matter. He said he expects the board to take up the issue soon in a closed meeting....
Pity that the meeting will not be an open one. If it were, taxpayers would find out just how many weasels sit on the school board.

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posted by Always On Watch @ 9/29/2007 08:31:00 AM