School district to remove Ten Commandments monument after atheist mom’s lawsuit

School district to remove Ten Commandments monument after atheist mom’s lawsuit
Ten Commandments monument in front of Valley Junior-Senior High School (Image source: YouTube screen cap)

A Ten Commandments monument will be removed from in front of a Pennsylvania high school after the atheist mother of a student filed a federal lawsuit in 2012.

Marie Schaub claimed the stone monument was a religious symbol and was offensive to her and her daughter, who was a Valley Junior-Senior High School student at the time, TribLive reported.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation — an atheist outfit known for taking up separation of church and state causes — reached an agreement with the New Kensington-Arnold School District, which is to remove the monument within 30 days from Feb. 15, the outlet said.

In addition the school district’s insurance company will pay $163,500 in legal fees — including more than $40,000 to the Freedom From Religion Foundation — TribLive reported.

“We’re very pleased,” Patrick Elliott, staff attorney for the FFRF, told the outlet. “It means that the Constitution is being followed by the school district.”

Superintendent John Pallone told TribLive that the district “compromised” in the agreement “in order to take the high road, as they say.”

Schaub told the outlet she hopes the settlement will stand as an “important lesson” for the “many people in my community [who] don’t understand or appreciate the separation of church and state.”

More from TribLive:

In July 2015, a federal judge dismissed Schaub’s suit, ruling that, because Schaub had withdrawn her daughter from Valley High School, she did not have standing to file such a suit.

But a month later, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated Schaub’s lawsuit, ruling that withdrawing her daughter from school to avoid having to see the monument daily was proof of “injury” from the presence of the religious symbol.

Pallone questioned the motive of the lawsuit and said no one really won in the end.

“It’s an unfortunate circumstance that these opportunists forced the district into a situation where we had to make this decision,” he told the outlet. “These plaintiffs and their lawyers basically made a mockery of the judicial system.”

Image source: KDKA-TV video screen cap
Image source: KDKA-TV video screen cap

Pallone added to TribLive that he believed the district’s case was winnable but decided to settle rather than having the lawsuit drag on: “We’re in a position where we just can’t continue to fight this distraction.”

Elliott told TribLive the legal fees the district is paying don’t cover the full amount spent.

Parent Benjamin Josefoski told KDKA-TV the 6-foot monument has “been there for a long time, it’s not hurting anybody, and the school is in such disrepair. If they’re going to worry about things like that, that really makes me wonder why?”

Dan Spiering added to the station that “if they need a place to put it, I’ll put it up for them. It’s crazy the way people think anymore; it’s terrible.”

The Ten Commandments monument has stood at the school since 1957, KDKA reported. A local Fraternal Order of the Eagles branch gave it to the district following the 1956 release of the movie “The Ten Commandments,” TribLive said.

(H/T: Todd Starnes)

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