Foundation Sues to Remove Ten Commandments from Valley High School

Sep 17, 2012

The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has filed a federal lawsuit against New Kensington-Arnold School District, seeking the removal of a large stone monument depicting the Ten Commandments outside the school's main entrance.

FFRF co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said her group first asked the district to remove the six-foot-tall monument in March, at the request of local families. Gaylor said the letter cited both the First Amendment to the Constitution and a 1980 Supreme Court ruling that prohibited posting the Commandments within high schools.

"We think it's a pity that we had to bring this lawsuit," said Gaylor. "This is going to be a waste of taxpayers' money. It's going to be a waste of our money. It's just not necessary."

Rather than take down the decalogue, at least one member of the school board posted on Facebook in March that the district would "not remove this monument without a fight".

Gaylor said she thinks it's a "sad commentary" that her group routinely gets hate mail from parents in school districts being sued, including New Kensington-Arnold.

"I think that's inevitable when you have abuses like this, where the school district gets behind one religion. The people of that religion feel entitled. They feel like they're first-class citizens, and those who oppose this religion in government are somehow outsiders," said Gaylor.

Gaylor said of her foundation, "We don't lose cases about religion in the schools." She said FFRF was successful in forcing the removal of a Nativity scene from government property in Ellwood City.

The New Kensington-Arnold School District referred questions to its solicitor, Tony Vigilante. He said that he is still reviewing the contents of the lawsuit with members of the school board.