Feb 12, 2018
FLORENCE, KY – Liberty Counsel sent a demand letter on Friday, February 8 to the Boone County School District to provide equal access for use of school facilities, consistent with the district facilities use policy, for Child Evangelism Fellowship’s after-school Good News Clubs for children K-5.
The district has altered evidence that proves it was illegally discriminating against the Good News Club while allowing other non-profit organizations like Girls on the Run of Cincinnati (GOTR) to use facilities space. Now, administrators appear poised to cancel all 2018 Boone County Schools GOTR clubs, a local nonprofit teaching character to girls through its running program, rather than simply extend equal treatment to the Good News Club.
On January 18, 2018, Liberty Counsel requested that the district respond to Child Evangelism Fellowship’s repeated inquiries seeking use of a room for Good News Club meetings after school, at Stephens Elementary and at Goodridge Elementary. Administrators at both schools first rejected, and then ignored, the requests dating back to 2015. The discrimination against CEF continued in 2016 and 2017, all while the district permitted GOTR to meet. Liberty Counsel provided hyperlinks to websites at both schools and additional evidence showing that GOTR is legally no different than the Good News Club.
In response, school administrators deleted an entire webpage description of GOTR at Stephens, and changed the name of “Girls on the Run” to “Running Club” at Goodridge, after which the district’s attorneys responded to Liberty Counsel, claiming that “neither running club at Stephens or Goodridge Elementary has any affiliation with the non-profit organization, Girls on the Run.” A simple search of the district’s website reveals over 420 hits for the non-profit “Girls on the Run,” many showing its official logo. GOTR even listed Stephens Elementary on its own website as an official club location, as well as numerous other district schools. The Goodridge GOTR permission slip is the non-profit’s standard permission slip, and shows contact info for GOTR Cincinnati.
“CEF and its sponsored Good News Clubs are entitled to equal treatment by Boone County Schools,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “It is amazing that schools would destroy evidence and consider canceling Girls on the Run rather than comply with the First Amendment principle of equal treatment for the Good News Clubs. We will hold Boone County School District accountable for overt viewpoint discrimination if equal treatment is not provided,” said Staver.
Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.