Bossier Parish Schools, AU reaches agreement on federal lawsuit over religion in schools

BPSO reaches settlement with AU for religion in school lawsuit

BOSSIER PARISH, LA (KSLA) - The Bossier Parish School Board and the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State reached an settlement in religion in the schools lawsuit.

A consent order was submitted to the court for consideration on amendments to the board’s current Religious Expression Policy.

This resolution comes almost a year after the religious liberties watchdog group, based in Washington, D.C. announced they would be filing a federal lawsuit against the Bossier City School District.

The group claimed the school district was guilty of “widespread unconstitutional promotion of Christianity throughout Bossier Parish public schools,” according to an AU press release.

While waiting for the court’s final decision Bossier Schools say they believe the revisions should resolve many of the issues in the lawsuit.

In a written statement, the board says they “stand united in an effort to preserve every student’s freedom of religious expression.”

The board established their Religious Expression Policy last year. The initial policy to solve most of the issues within in the lawsuit, and the parties’ new resolution provides for certain minor revisions in the policy.

The Bossier Parish School Board says its agreement could:

-Protects the rights of students to pray at school and at school events

-Allows students to speak at school events

-Does not penalize employees who bow their heads out of respect for such prayers when offered

-Allows teachers of both substantive areas and the arts to teach about religion in an objective manner

-Allows student clubs of all kinds, including FCA, to continue to organize, meet, and be active on campus

-Allows students to express their own ideas verbally and to distribute literature

-Allows employees to wear items of jewelry that may include symbols associated with religion

"The settlement allows for the closure of this case without the loss of any student rights, which is of utmost importance to the Board. We are pleased to be able to resolve this matter without impinging upon our students’ rights, which we see as a victory for all of Bossier Parish.” says Bossier Schools Superintendent Scott Smith.

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