American Humanist Association and SkyView Academy reach settlement
For Immediate Release
Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monica Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 120, email@example.com
(Denver, CO, April 22, 2015)— The American Humanist Association (AHA) reached a favorable settlement agreement today in its case against SkyView Academy, a public charter school in the Douglas County School District in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, after a lawsuit was filed against the school for endorsing programs that promote Christianity.
“Using public school resources to support evangelical programs violates the law and marginalizes non-Christian students,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “We hope the school will promote charitable giving by working with an organization that does not promote religion.”
The settlement agreement, which declares SkyView’s Operation Christmas Child practices unconstitutional, permanently enjoins SkyView from sponsoring Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Christmas Child or any other religious charity. The school may not encourage student participation in Operation Christmas Child, and it may not offer students incentives for participating in religious programs. It is also prohibited from promoting religious charities on its website, in official school emails or through the distribution of flyers and other materials.
“Today’s settlement agreement vindicates the constitutional rights of all students and provides assurances that the school will comply with the Establishment Clause in the future,” said Monica Miller, an attorney with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.
The American Humanist Association represented local Douglas County parents in the lawsuit, which alleged that SkyView Academy violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by supporting the evangelical Christian organization run by minister Franklin Graham, Samaritan’s Purse, and participating in its Operation Christmas Child program, which aims to convert children to Christianity in developing countries. Students at SkyView were offered awards for creating and collecting shoeboxes to be used by Operation Christmas Child in its evangelizing efforts. The program was also promoted on the school’s official website and in flyers sent home to parents, which encouraged families to donate money to Samaritan’s Purse and its Operation Christmas Child program.
A copy of the settlement agreement can be viewed here. The American Humanist Association’s lawsuit against the Douglas County School District for similar violations of the Establishment Clause is on-going.
Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other non-religious Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.