Tuesday, May 13, 2008

ADF: Judge halts discriminatory actions toward Christians at Deer Valley Unified School District

A federal judge Friday ordered the Deer Valley Unified School District to end its prohibition on a Christian student club’s PA announcements. The district is required to allow the meeting announcements as it does for other student clubs while a student’s civil rights lawsuit, filed by attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund, moves forward in court.

"Christians shouldn’t be discriminated against for expressing their beliefs," said ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman. "Mountain Ridge High School officials deliberately silenced a Christian student club while allowing other clubs to convey their messages without fear of censorship. The government cannot discriminate against Christian student groups simply because they are religious."

"We are pleased that the students will be free to exercise their First Amendment rights while we continue to litigate this case," added ADF Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco, who argued in favor of the preliminary injunction order at a hearing April 17 (www.telladf.org/news/story.aspx?cid=4474).

On Jan. 30, ADF attorneys filed suit against the school district after school officials denied the Common Cause club’s request for a morning announcement over the PA system. The video and oral announcements, submitted by student Erin Krestan, invited students to attend a prayer meeting during non-instructional time.

On Feb. 28, ADF attorneys filed an amended complaint and motion for preliminary injunction requesting that the court suspend the school’s policies that were used to censor the Christian club’s announcement.

In its order, the court concluded that Krestan "is likely to prevail on the merits of her claim" that the federal Equal Access Act requires her school to allow the video and oral announcements she submitted. The court also concluded that the school district is unlikely to prevail in its arguments that the announcements violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

A copy of the preliminary injunction issued Friday by the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, Phoenix Division, in Krestan v. Deer Valley Unified School District is available at www.telladf.org/UserDocs/EKPI.pdf.

ADF is a legal alliance defending the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding, and litigation.

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