After receiving word from a concerned parent, national atheist activist group the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent an April letter of complaint to an Ohio school district taking issue with a Ten Commandments plaque display, the Times-Reporter said.
The FFRF took issue with the plaque near an auditorium entrance in Welty Middle School in New Philadelphia, saying the Constitution doesn’t allow public schools to advance or endorse religion, the paper said.
So earlier this month, attorney Brian J. DeSantis — who’s representing the district — wrote to the FFRF saying the Ten Commandments plaque had been removed and is “no longer on display on district property,” the Times-Reporter said.
Christopher Line of the FFRF told the paper that “as far as we’re concerned, this situation is completely resolved. We’re happy that the district did the right thing by taking down this religious promotion.”
Oh, but it was far smooth sailing
But don’t think the resolution to this issue was easily realized.
In fact, New Philadelphia Schools Superintendent David Brand told the Times-Reporter that the district disagreed with FFRF’s approach.
“Rather than meeting with the District to begin a dialogue, FFRF sent a letter from its office in Wisconsin and then used the local media to further the issue,” Brand noted to the paper.
The superintendent noted to the Times-Reporter that the district “gathered more information, listened to interested community members, and reviewed its options” about the plaque, which was a gift from the Class of 1926 and appears to have been on display in the district “ever since” 1927.
“With over 90 years on display, the plaque is recognized as part of the tradition and history of New Philadelphia City Schools,” Brand added in his statement to the paper.
But the superintendent said it would have been too costly to fight to keep the plaque displayed.
“Despite offers from local law professionals to help the district, the ‘costs’ of defending are substantial,” Brand told the Times-Reporter, adding that “challenging the issue legally would be an enormous risk and burden to the local taxpayers.”
He added that the district will look into donating the plaque.