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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."

Janice Ruggieri April 26, 2012 at 05:38 PM
The School Committee was not given the opportunity to remove some of the words and leave the banner up. The ACLU would not accept the removal of "Our Heavenly Father" and "Amen". The ACLU provided their acceptable language which would have required a complete repainting of the original banner. If you go to the archives from the Providence Journal from July 2010 you will see that this is a fact. The police detail is no longer in place for Ms. Ahlquist.
Robin Lionheart April 26, 2012 at 06:07 PM
JTP, Mar 7‣ “Hey LionsAss, Are those horns on your head?” JTP, Mar 8‣ “Yes Lion'Ass upon more careful inspection of your picture, those really are horns comming out of your head!” JTP, Mar 9‣ “@LionsAss Yes...... Those are certainly horns coming from your head.” RL, Mar 9‣ “Three times, huh? Proud of those gibes, are you? Feel clever making them?” JTP, Mar 10‣ “Yes I do .........”
Joe The Plumber April 26, 2012 at 08:11 PM
I'll be there!
Robin Lionheart April 27, 2012 at 09:51 AM
Rosie writes: “I'd like to know if JA is still getting police details!!! If so, that has to stop. The case is over.” The case is. The terrorism isn’t. Anonymous letter to Jessica Ahlquist 2 weeks ago: “The cops will not watch you forever. We will get you good. Tell your little asshole of a sister to watch her back. There are many of us “crudⒶders”. We have a betting pool to see who gets you first!”
Foxeyroxie15 April 27, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Thanks, Janice for the info on the police detail. Projo is unreliable. I wrote to the editor on another item - she referred to something else on the same subject. If I dug further in the archives, I'd find something diffferent on this case. Pro - JA sat down with S.C., wanted Heavenly Father, Amen removed. Projo - ACLU won't accept rewording (as you said). No, Projo is not a reliable source, their reporting is poor. They seem to come from the Murdoch School of Sensationlism. Our police dept. should certainly be investigating any outstanding threats that haven't been closed but police details ??? Thanks again for answering what the City Council wouldn't.
Foxeyroxie15 April 27, 2012 at 11:39 PM
Robin - yes, they filed a complaint 2 weeks ago. Seems they "found" an overlooked letter from Feb. !! JA posted it on her Twitter acct. AFTER they "found" it. When Projo printed this a couple of weeks ago, I had to wonder how it could have been "overlooked" by the family. Every piece of evidence should have been turned over to the CPD immediately. Found 2 months later, posted on Twitter THEN a complaint filed?? Someone apparently told JA to get that off her acct. immediately. Have to question the motives in that particular scenario.
Robin Lionheart April 28, 2012 at 10:12 AM
@Roxie From your scare quotes, I take it you suspect Jessica of faking that letter? I could think of several ways they might have missed it, Frex, maybe it arrived while she was going around the country giving speeches. From what I’ve read, lawyers have defended clients against charges of harassment by arguing, that since their target posted or reposted their harassing messages, their target was “engaging” with them, and so their communication was not unwelcome. She may have suddenly taken down her scanned image of the threat on legal advice, to not undermine a legal case against the perpetrator.
Melanie Scalera April 28, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Look, we all know Robin Lionheart wrote the threat letter. She is an out-of-stater, yet knows more detail in the letter than police reported to the media. She is an obsessive freak who needs to mind her own state's business. She apparently still cannot comprehend that we do not give a rats ass what she thinks.
Foxeyroxie15 April 28, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Melanie - It is as Robin said re: the wording of the "late" threat. I believe it was posted in Projo. I don't get on Patch too often anymore so it had to have been Projo. I believe if you go back to the beginning of April in Projo archives, you'll find the article. The article was quickly pulled but it's in there someplace!!
Melanie Scalera April 28, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Oh, I've read the article....they blocked out portions. Lion is posting the things they blocked out....how does IT know what is said in those parts when it doesn't even live anywhere near this state.....unless it wrote the letter. IT is freakishly obsessed with this case.
Robin Lionheart April 29, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Melanie has cracked the case!~ The conspiracy laid bare without leaving her chair!~ Move over Encyclopedia Brown!~ Only the perpetrator saw the portions of this letter that ProJo blacked out.~ Well, also police and Jessica and her relations, but they wouldn’t be sharing its contents now. And well, also readers of Jessica’s Twitter and Cranston Patch* while it was briefly posted here. But nobody could remember in detail something they read a couple weeks ago; I must be remembering in detail something I wrote a couple weeks ago!~ Unless, perhaps, copies of the letter remain online, and I know how to google. But how likely is that? * http://cranston.patch.com/articles/ahlquist-family-told-to-get-out-of-ri-in-threatening-letter
Melanie Scalera April 29, 2012 at 01:11 AM
Good job editing all of your posts 5 times LION. You should be banned from this site.....you are an obsessed creep who seriously needs to get a life and go play with your own states news webpage. Your opinion MIGHT actually matter there.
Robin Lionheart April 29, 2012 at 12:42 PM
@Melanie Why do you assume I don’t comment on news stories in my vicinity? That wouldn’t be very consistent with my behavior here, would it? You say I should be banned from the Patch. Yet over the past couple days, you’ve called me “mamaluke”, “obsessive freak”, “freakishly obsessed”, and “obsessed creep”, and libelously accused me of committing a hate crime. That doesn’t seem conducive to a productive discussion, and probably violates the Terms of Use.
Prof. Frederick Sweet April 29, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Perhaps the scariest part of this issue is that people with political religious agendas insist on having their own way in PUBLIC schools and on the public COMMONS, no matter what. The wisdom of the Founders in writing the U.S. Constitution anticipated zealots and fanatics. Together with the courts, it has protected our freedom in public schools against those who wrap themselves in the American flag and spew Hell Fire and Brimstone to shove their ideology down the throats of our children. Just because a religious banner like the one in Cranston is on an auditorium wall in a public high school for 50 years cannot make it legal. Blaming the ACLU for the court compelling Cranston's public high school to remove the banner is naive and moderately stupid. The ACLU exists to take up Constitutional issues that are CLEAR violations of the law. The ACLU first warns offenders they are breaking the law, and then takes them to court. The ACLU has even defended the First Amendment right of an American neo-Nazi group to march on the streets through an Illinois Jewish community. That was hardly a knee jerk "liberal" ACLU cause. Cranston's school administrators showed very poor judgment insisting on continuing to break the law in the name of tradition. The Constitution does not recognize traditionally violating its provisions. Cranston residents will have to pay for the school administrators’ poor judgment in buckling under pressure from its political extremists.
Joe The Plumber April 30, 2012 at 01:16 AM
Professor Fred does it again! Imagine expressing religious beliefs on the "public COMMONS"? Not in the USA according to Doc Fred ... And here I am a silly plumber. I always thought that the public commons should be religiously pluralistic, and that as Americans we should be able to support our diverse beliefs in the commons. Thanks for your enlightenment Freddy. Like where do you teach? North Korea maybe?
Melanie Scalera April 30, 2012 at 01:35 AM
9:35 pm on Sunday, April 29, 2012 When you badmouth MY religion, you bet your lion's ass I'm gonna retaliate. If you didn't want to be called names, then you should not have badmouthed God or my religion. Don't think I forgot what you said back on that other article You have the right to your own beliefs and your opinion, but you do not have the right to use foul language on something others hold sacred directly to us. Why are you still here??
Robin Lionheart April 30, 2012 at 11:34 AM
@Melanie Foul language? I don’t believe I have ever used foul language on Patch. Badmouthing God? Are you referring to that “sky daddy”/“sky mommy” crack about two months ago? Any deity worth his tithes ought to be able to handle that. You write “you do not have the right to use foul language on something others hold sacred directly to us”. Yes, I do. I live in the United States of America. We don’t have blasphemy laws here, unlike theocracies like Pakistan or Saudi Arabia. Personally, I prefer not to use blue language, but I will defend, for example, Tim Minchin’s right to cuss out the pedophile‐protecting Pope in song, no matter how many people find that morally depraved man sacred.
Melanie Scalera April 30, 2012 at 02:22 PM
You used the C word. And what you are writing now, my point is proven, you are a piece of shit.
Boston April 30, 2012 at 02:27 PM
I have a question? the school department has claimed for years there are no more cuts that can be made but suddenly they have $75,000 because they 'had a good year'.... amazing! Kids are losing programs but they can suddenly find $75,000? i would like to see some accounting on this one!! something seems odd about this...
Robin Lionheart April 30, 2012 at 02:29 PM
@Melanie No, you must be confusing me with someone else. Being a feminist, I disapprove of, and call people out for, pejoratively using the C‐word.
Melanie Scalera April 30, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Feminist??? You're probably a dude!! Robin Lionheart 9:00 pm on Monday, February 13, 2012 Oh that poor town of Cranston, being picked on by that sixteen year old girl who thinks they're weaker than her. ---- Kara Russo: That little witch! Rep. Peter Palumbo: Evil little thing! Clapping seal! Twins Florist: I will not deliver to this person. Matt Starchild: Burn in Hell! Crotchsnot: You're a puke and a disgrace to the human race. Donna Higgins: I want the immediate removal of all atheists from the school. Ryan Simoneau: I want to punch the girl in the face. AJ St. Angelo: Let's all jump that girl. I wanna snuff her. zombiecamera: I can't wait to hear about you getting curb stomped you fucking worthless cunt. Ed: They are no better than the KKK... You're using someone else's words, but you still didn't block it out.
Robin Lionheart April 30, 2012 at 02:58 PM
@Melanie Ah, now I understand. You must be referring to me decrying zombiecamera’s tweet, “@jessicaahlquist your home address posted online i cant wait to hear about you getting curb stomped you fucking worthless cunt”. Don’t you dare put try to zombiecamera’s words in my mouth, Melanie.
Melanie Scalera April 30, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Clearly, they ARE in your mouth since you just posted them again.
Robin Lionheart April 30, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Clearly, in context, I was not quoting zombiecamera in order to call Jessica a C‐word, but to condemn zombiecamera with his own words. And you characterized _that_ as “using foul language on something others hold sacred”? Doesn’t your god disapprove of such false witness?
Melanie Scalera April 30, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Your rambling does not even make sense. I didn't say you called anyone anything. I said you typed the C-word. And you did.
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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