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School District Will Split ACLU Fees with City

The city has already paid the $150,000 in legal fees owed to the ACLU after losing the prayer banner case.

The School Committee last night unanimously approved a proposal that asks the city to split the $150,000 in legal fees owed to the American Civil Liberties Union after losing the prayer banner case.

Superintendent Peter Nero proposed the plan at last night's meeting.

The city has already paid the bill. Cranston Mayor Allan W. Fung said that the city paid the bill recently and is hoping the school department pays back the city some of the money.

Under the proposal, the district would pay the city $75,000.

The banner, which contained a school prayer, was ordered removed by a U.S. District Court Judge earlier this year.

The enormous banner has hung in this Rhode Island high school since 1963. It begins with the phrase "Our Heavenly Father" and ends with "Amen," and hung in place for decades before it became the center of controversy. A Cranston student who objected to the banner's presence sued the district with the help of the ACLU, and in January a judge ordered that the banner be removed.

The ACLU . In a letter to the district at the time, Steven Brown, executive director of the ACLU, wrote "there can be no question that the school auditorium’s prayer display violates a core principle of the First Amendment."

In April of 2011, Jessica Ahlquist, a 16 year old Cranston West student and self-described atheist, filed suit to have the banner removed. She was called "an evil little thing," a "clapping seal" and a "pawn star"

David Bradley, the author of the prayer and a graduate of the class of 1963, said he was tasked to write the prayer and the creed as a student council member in 1960 at the request of his adviser and the school administration.

The 21st century church and state debate brought media from around the country and the world to Cranston.

The banner has not found a new home, yet. The School Committee has not decided where it will go and could choose between a number of offers from public and private groups to give it a new resting place including a church and several businesses. School officials said the banner is being stored in a "secure location."

Robin Lionheart April 30, 2012 at 03:18 PM
@Melanie And if you think my outspokenness means I am “probably a dude!!”, you’ve got some sexism of your own to work on.
Melanie Scalera April 30, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Rambling that makes no sense again. Bottom line, I have nothing against atheists, but when they are rude and purposely attack....they're nothing but a-holes, or C----s, as you like to post.
Janice Ruggieri May 01, 2012 at 11:03 AM
The money is coming from line items already in the budget for 11/12 that had surplus...our utilities costs were down due to the mild winter so there was some surplus there and our legal fund had surplus because with the exception of the Ahlquist cast ( handled pro-bono by both our attorney and the firm that handled the case in court) we did not use all of the allocated funds there. This is not always the case within a budget year. Believe me, I asked exactly where that money would be coming from.....
Robin Lionheart May 01, 2012 at 11:49 AM
Isn't it nice to know that $75,000 they saved, and didn't spend on programs for kids, went to a worthy cause: supporting the good work of the ACLU? ☺
Melanie Scalera May 01, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Yeah.....the ACLU is just as shitty as you. I'd rather flush money down the toilet....

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