A federal district court judge today granted a temporary restraining order to students and parents suing their Texas school district, thus allowing them to exchange religious cards and bring red and green party supplies to a school “Winter Break” party scheduled for tomorrow.
As WorldNetDaily reported, the Plano Independent School District was sued yesterday with lawyers for the plaintiffs claiming the district’s policies and practices – which include a ban on candy cane distribution when a religious card is attached, a ban on parents giving religious-oriented items to one another on school property, a ban on criticizing school board members or administrators on campus, and the barring of any colors but white at a school “Winter Break” party – are unconstitutional.
The timing of the suit was meant as an attempt to secure the restraining order so participants could enjoy tomorrow’s party without worrying about the district enforcing its policies. The action today was granted by Judge Paul Brown of the U.S. District Court in Sherman, Texas.
“These policies are a blatant violation of religious freedom and free speech. These are school officials who have lost all common sense,” Kelly Shackelford, Liberty Legal Institute’s chief counsel, told WND yesterday. Attorneys from Liberty Legal Institute and Alliance Defense Fund are representing the Plano families.
Richard Abernathy, the attorney representing the district, denies school officials were planning to enforce their policies at the Winter Break party.
“The Plano ISD made the decision that the holiday parties held on Friday, Dec. 17, were being held during non-instructional time,” Abernathy said in a statement. “As a result, the district decided that students and parents could hand out any materials, written or otherwise, that they desired as long as the distribution did not cause a material and substantial disruption to the school environment.”
Shackelford says regardless of how Abernathy might spin it, the district policy has not changed and does not differentiate between “non-instructional” and “instructional” time.
Said Shackelford: “Their statement is an admission that they’re in trouble now, so they’re trying to change things on the fly.”
The attorney pointed out the district could have notified all the parents via an e-mail list if it were changing a policy, “but they haven’t changed anything.”