Talk about breaking with tradition.
Following a long-winded controversy, the ACLU has struck an agreement with New Jersey's Neptune Township school board. In response to one individual's complaint over the presence of religious symbols at last year's commencement ceremony, the district will make substantial changes to this year's event.
In an effort to ease tensions and avoid an unwarranted court battle, officials will cover up the few religious symbols that are present inside the Ocean Grove Great Auditorium. Additionally, students and families will be forced to enter through a side door to avoid walking under a 20-foot cross that is positioned above the front entrance of the building. According to NBC New York, the ACLU is pleased with the agreement:
ACLU communications director Katie Wang told the Asbury Park Press the group is satisfied all can enjoy the graduation "without feeling like outsiders based on religious differences.''
Interestingly, NBC describes the woman who complained after last year's event as "non-district." The school has been holding graduations at the historical location without incident for the past 60 years and, to date, no families have come forward to report that the symbols offend them.
So, while tax-paying, district families seem to have no problem with the traditional nature of the event, an individual with no official ties to the school has caused quite a stir. For now, though, it seems the debate has been settled.