According to the law firm, almost two years have passed since Providence Public School District refused to recognize a Good News Club chapter despite repeated attempts by Child Evangelism Fellowship, the parent organization, to obtain permission for one.
Liberty Counsel president Mat Staver tells AFN the school district’s attitude is “one of defiance” because the law firm has warned the school it is violating legal precedent and the Constitution-guaranteed right to equal access and equal treatment.
“They clearly know what the law states and they know the Supreme Court has already made a decision on this issue,” Staver says, referring to a 2001 high court ruling that found a New York school illegally rejected a Good News Club.
“So it's absolute defiance thinking that we would never push back,” Staver tells AFN, “although we did push back."
The lawsuit, which names the school district and Superintendent Dr. Javier Montanez, was filed March 10 in the U.S. District Court Rhode Island District.
Providence Public Schools serves approximately 23,000 students in 43 schools.
According to The Providence Journal newspaper, a Good News Club chapter was allowed at William D’Abate Elementary School during the 2019-2020 school year but it was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic when schools shuttered their doors.
A representative from Child Evangelism Fellowship asked school officials in August 2021 to resume that club, and to start a second one in Leviton Elementary, but that request and many that followed it have allegedly gone ignored, according to the Journal story.