HCCSC board issues statement about bible trailer ruling

The Huntington County Community School Corporation Board of Trustees issued the following statement regarding the "By The Book" religious education program on Thursday, March 26.

The board met in executive session to discuss the issue on Tuesday, March 24.

"As evidenced by the input heard regarding the ‘By The Book' program at the public School Board meeting held on Monday, March 23, 2009, the HCCSC School Trustees acknowledge the large concern and sincere opinions of the citizens of Huntington County. The Board appreciates and values the support and concern that members of our community have shown regarding this matter and we will always strive to do what is in the best interests of all HCCSC students and Huntington County citizens.

"On Thursday, March 19, 2009, Judge James T. Moody of the United States District Court issued his Opinion and Order on the Motion for Preliminary Injunction regarding the ‘By The Book' Weekday Religious Education Program, which is sponsored and operated by the Associated Churches of Huntington County (ACHC). It is the intent and plan of the HCCSC Board of School Trustees to move forward with this case by preparing for the trial on the merits and to continue to vigorously defend the allegations contained in the original pleading and complaint as filed by the parent of a Horace Mann student.
"Judge Moody's Order states in pertinent part, ‘... defendant Huntington County Community School Corporation is hereby Enjoined (prohibited) from allowing religious instruction to occur on its property during school instructional time.'

"It is important for our community to know that the Board of School Trustees relies on the advice of their legal counsel with respect to their responsibilities, obligations, and options in the continuing defense of this case. In that regard, on Friday, March 20, 2009 in direct response to Judge Moody's Order, HCCSC Superintendent Tracey Shafer notified our eight elementary school building principals that HCCSC would ‘respectfully observe this Order (governing the Preliminary Injunction) of the Court.' This has resulted in the removal of all ‘By The Book' trailers from all HCCSC property until further Court order advising otherwise.

"While the Board of Trustees disagree with the conclusions reached in the Order issued by Judge Moody, they recognize that they are both legally and ethically obligated as fiduciaries of this school corporation to comply with the Preliminary Injunction. To do otherwise would ignore the Order's clear command forbidding HCCSC ‘from allowing religious instruction to occur on its property during school instructional time.' This case is still a matter of ongoing litigation and, therefore, decisions as to legal strategy are confidential matters between HCCSC and its legal counsel.

"We recognize that our community places great value on the desire to continue to offer the voluntary ‘By The Book' program to those HCCSC elementary students and parents who wish to participate in it. This Board is open to hearing any and all reasonable options for the continued operation of the program from both the Associated Churches of Huntington County as the sponsoring organization and our patrons. At the same time, this Board is legally and ethically obligated to make sure that any future conduct of the program is compliant with the United States District Court.

"To reiterate, the Board of School Trustees appreciates and respects the opinions of the citizens of Huntington County. The Board will continue to strongly defend against the allegations at issue and will provide updates from time to time as this lawsuit progresses."