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La. school board held in contempt for violating prayer ban

By The Associated Press
07.02.06

NEW ORLEANS — The Tangipahoa Parish School Board has been held in civil contempt of court by a federal judge for violating an August 2004 agreement over school prayer.

The order, issued last week by U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan, does not specifically name any school official as being in contempt, but orders the school board to pay attorneys fees to the plaintiffs who filed the motions.

The American Civil Liberties Union is representing a parent and two children who complained about prayers in Tangipahoa Parish public schools. They are unnamed in court documents.

The ACLU and the school board have tangled for three years over the proper role of religiously worded invocations at school events and then overseeing them through the consent order that attempted to settle the question.

Berrigan rejected the idea that student-initiated prayers or prayers said at off-campus events would comply with the prayer agreement. At issue were two school banquets in 2005 in which students offered prayers.

ACLU officials said the decision upheld religious neutrality in the schools. School officials said they disagreed with the ruling, but would abide by the order until they could consult with their attorney.


Previous
Federal judge: Louisiana teacher didn't violate prayer ban
Court says teacher's Bible club, other activities weren't expressly prohibited by lawsuit settlement between Tangipahoa Parish, ACLU. 07.20.05

Related

Louisiana teachers get lesson on school prayer

More than 1,000 Tangipahoa Parish teachers take class in effort to avoid further lawsuits over religion in public schools. 08.16.05

5th Circuit studies prayer at school board meetings
During oral arguments, judges ask pointed questions of attorneys on both sides of Louisiana dispute. 02.09.06

Federal judge tells Mo. district to halt teacher-led prayers
Injunction also orders Doniphan schools to abide by district policy recognizing separation of church and state. 09.07.06

ACLU: Deal reached in student teacher's suit over school prayer
Cynthia Thompson sued Tangipahoa Parish School Board, Southeastern Louisiana University, saying she entered 'nightmare' of constant prayer, proselytizing in fourth-grade class. 10.04.06

ACLU sues La. school system over Bible distribution
Lawsuit, which is fifth filed against Tangipahoa Parish over religion in 13 years, claims middle school principal improperly allowed people to hand out Gideon Bibles to students. 05.18.07

Graduation prayer lands La. district in hot water — again
'I'm not aware of any school district that's been sued this many times for religious freedom,' state ACLU head says after Tangipahoa Parish is hit with 6th suit in 13 years. 06.10.07

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