‘Good News’ restored at Ariz. school district
PHOENIX — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys have reached a settlement with the Dysart Unified School District that will allow a Christian club to once again distribute fliers that promote their group’s activities to students. ADF attorneys had filed suit in January after the school district prohibited the distribution of the fliers because of their “religious nature,” despite several federal court decisions that have declared such actions unconstitutional.
“A Christian organization should have the same right to publicize its voluntary meetings as other groups do,” said ADF Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “The district has done the right thing in approving the Good News Club fliers for distribution and revising its policies that banned religious fliers. That will allow the club and other similar groups to have the same access to publicize their events to students that all other groups enjoy.”
In October 2011, Child Evangelism Fellowship Phoenix submitted a completed Flier Approval Request Form and sample flier to the district’s community specialist to advertise a new Good News Club to meet after school at West Point Elementary School in the Phoenix suburb of Surprise. The district had already approved fliers for a wide variety of community groups, including the Boy Scouts, Cesar Chavez Foundation, Interfaith Community Care, Sun City Area Interfaith Services, Salvation Army Sun City Corps, Valley of the Sun United Way, and a number of local governments.
Although the flier contained a disclaimer that said the district did not endorse or sponsor the club or its activities, the district rejected it on the grounds that it was “against district policy” because the program being promoted was “religious in nature.” In early April, the district’s Board of Education amended its policies by removing their prohibitions on fliers of a religious nature, thereby ensuring equal access for religious groups in the future.
Because the school district has approved the Good News Club fliers for distribution, changed its unconstitutional policies, and agreed to pay CEF’s attorneys’ fees, ADF attorneys filed a voluntary dismissal of the lawsuit on Thursday.
Attorneys with the Center for Arizona Policy served as co-counsel in the case, Child Evangelism Fellowship Phoenix v. Dysart Unified School District, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.
- Pronunciation guide: Tedesco (Thu-DESS-ko)
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.