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J.P. v. Board of Education of Half Hollow Hills Central School District

J.P. v. Board of Education of Half Hollow Hills Central School District

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What's at stake

The freedom of students to form clubs to share their religious beliefs at school without fear of censorship or punishment

Students being told that their Christian club will not receive the same recognition and treatment as secular clubs 

Summary

Janelle Poukamissas was one of the leaders of the Ichthus Club, a Christian club for students at Half Hollow Hills High School East in Long Island, New York. But her leadership was cut short when the Club was cancelled, without any notice, at the start of the school year. The School District claimed that unspecified budget cuts and a lack of student popularity spurred their decision, even though the Ichthus Club had more than 55 members and none of the other nearly 60 clubs at the High School were subjected to cancellation. Janelle and the other leaders worked diligently to negotiate with the administration to keep the club, even offering to cut expenses by meeting every other week and finding a club advisor who would volunteer, but officials and the school board declined the offer.

With the help of Alliance Defending Freedom, Janelle filed a lawsuit to challenge the cancellation of the club. The School District ultimately caved, agreeing to reinstate the club, change district policy, and revoke unconstitutional guidelines for club formation and official recognition.

Our role in this case

Alliance Defending Freedom represented Janelle in the defense of her rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Legal Documents

Court
Title
Date
Trial Court
5/31/2011
Trial Court
2/10/2010

Biographies

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David A. Cortman
David A. Cortman
Senior Counsel, Vice President of U.S. Litigation
David A. Cortman serves as senior counsel and vice president of U.S. litigation with Alliance Defending Freedom.