The Cranston School Committee voted 5 to 2 last night not to appeal a judge’s ruling that a prayer banner doesn’t belong in a public school.
While it’s pretty obviously a violation of the Establishment Clause (separation of church and state) of the Constitution to hang a prayer banner in a public high school, two of the school committee members said they voted against the appeal because of what it would cost, according to the Associated Press.
An appeal, the school committee’s lawyer told them last night, could cost a half a million dollars. Already, the ACLU is asking the school district to cover its legal bills to the tune of $173,000.
The issue has been giant news in Rhode Island for about a year now, since the school committee decided to fight a lawsuit that Jessica Ahlquist, a high school junior, brought saying the prayer banner violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. After she won the suit, students threatened her causing her to need a police escort in school and local florists refused to deliver flowers to her. The low point came when Rep. Peter Palumbo called her an “evil little thing” on WPRO.
The matter made national news and resulted in a lot of embarrassing press for the Ocean State.