SPRINGBORO – A school district in Ohio might seek legal help from religious liberty groups as the district considers implementing education policies to facilitate debates on controversial subjects such as evolution and abortion.
As previously reported, the Springboro Board of Education in southwestern Ohio recently received national attention for proposing policy changes that would facilitate open debates about several “hot topics” in the classroom. On May 23rd, the ACLU sent the board president a 3-page letter, urging school administrators to drop the “unconstitutional” policy amendments.
In late May, board vice president Jim Rigano told ABC affiliate WKEF-TV that the proposed revisions would create a beneficial, balanced education environment.
“We don’t want to be indoctrinating students to any particular point of view, we want to make sure all things are taught in a fair and balanced way,” he explained. “We want them to be able to think through [the controversial issues] and ultimately be able to make a good argument.”
Since the initial kerfuffle earlier this summer, Springboro Board of Education members have remained fairly quiet about the policy controversy. Last week, however, the left-wing blog Plunderbund leaked documents showing that board members are considering help from legal organizations in defending the proposed revisions.
One such document is an email supposedly sent from Rigano to Rita Dunaway. Dunaway is the vice president for public policy of the Virginia Christian Alliance (VCA)—an organization dedicated to “promot[ing] moral, social and scientific issues we face today from a Biblical point of view.”
“The inclusion of the word ‘creation’ [in the revised policies] has set off the ACLU and their allies,” Rigano wrote in the email, “although we intend the word in a larger sense to mean the origin of the universe, earth and man. They, of course, have threatened us citing a long list of legal cases. However, at this point our board is willing to take on the issue.”
Rigano concluded his message by asking Dunaway if she would “be willing to examine our proposed policies and suggest any modification that might be useful to legally defend the goals of the policies.”
In addition to the VCA, Springboro school officials are considering legal assistance from the Liberty Institute (LI)—an organization committed to protecting and restoring religious freedoms in the U.S. As publicized by Plunderbund, the LI has drafted an official legal representation contract that Springboro school officials might sign sometime this month.
“LI Attorneys will provide advice, counsel, and investigation on behalf of Client with regard to the Legal Matter,” the contract states, “including any subsequent lawsuits or appeals within the scope of the Legal Matter at LI’s sole discretion. Staff and attorney time for said advice, counsel, and investigation by LI Attorneys will be provided at no charge…”
Following this development in the Springboro controversy, opponents of the school’s proposed policies once again harshly criticized the school board members. One commenter on Plunderbund said the amended policy is an example of “the insane and insufferable political [expletive] pushed upon this nation by the Republicans and their tea-bagger goon squads infesting public offices at all levels of American government.”
However, another individual voiced support for the revisions on a WLMT comment page, opining that debates are essential to good schooling.
“This is EXACTLY what our education system should promote,” he wrote. “Real thinking and the ability [for the students] to form their own opinions.”
Photo: Springboro Community City Schools