Parent who filed suit to stop religious program in schools has her way ... for now

It appears as though the parent of a local third-grader who filed suit to stop the practice of offering a religious education program on school grounds will have her way ... at least for now.

United States Magistrate Judge Roger B. Cosbey on Tuesday issued his report and recommendation on the pending legal case filed by the mother of an 8-year-old Horace Mann student on Nov. 12.

By his report, Magistrate Judge Cosbey recommends that "the plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction be granted and that the school corporation's motion to dismiss be denied," a news release from the Huntington County Community School Corporation explains.

By rule, however, the school corporation as defendant has 10 days from today's date of Feb. 3 to file specific written objections to the proposed findings or recommendations, the release notes. If that happens, the mother, who has the backing of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), has 10 days to respond to those objections.

At the end of these time periods and after consideration of Magistrate Judge Cosbey's report, District Court Judge James Moody will issue final orders on the motion for preliminary injunction and the motion to dismiss, and HCCSC will appropriately act upon them, the release states.

At issue in the case is the long-standing tradition of offering the "By The Book" religious education program, which is operated by the Associated Churches of Huntington County, to local elementary school students. The program has been in place at Huntington County schools for more than 50 years. The Associated Churches transports a trailer from elementary school to elementary school and, while the program takes place on school property, no tax dollars are used to support it.

"It is the general standard of procedure and conduct that HCCSC and its Board of Trustees do not offer public comment on pending litigation or court matters," the news release went on to say. "However, upon the issuance of final orders on the preliminary injunction and motion to dismiss, the HCCSC Board of School Trustees will appropriately respond."