Sending Good News Club Fliers Home With Students

James Maule Maule at law.villanova.edu
Wed Dec 3 05:56:18 PST 2008


FYI, for what it's worth, perhaps of interest to someone writing about this issue. (Haverford Township is in Delaware County, just to the west of Philadelphia).

Jim Maule
Villanova University School of Law

>From http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/35457869.html

Selected portions:

Evangelical group sues Haverford district over fliers

Haverford Township school officials are trying to extricate the district from a legal tussle with an evangelical Christian group that wants to send informational fliers home with grade-school students. Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) filed suit against the Haverford Township School District in late October after the district refused to distribute fliers promoting the group's after-school Good News Club.

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After CEF sued, the district relented and sent out between 750 and 800 fliers in students' Friday take-home folders the week before Thanksgiving, said Mary Beth Lauer, the district's community-relations director. The fliers, which were sent home with students at Chatham Park and Chestnutwold Elementaries, contained a disclaimer declaring that the school did not sponsor or endorse the activity.

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In a statement, Superintendent William Keilbaugh said: "If, as alleged, our rule of distributing only school and township youth recreation program materials was not strictly complied with, and other groups' materials were sent home with students, that was an inadvertent error we will correct going forward."

The district is hoping to settle the matter out of court, although it might still be on the hook for legal and court fees. Meanwhile, school officials are trying to figure how to best enforce the district's flier policy - which allows only school- and township-sponsored groups to send home letters with the children - without hurting groups such as PTOs.

* * *

Cheryl Wert, a PTO member at Chestnutwold, said the district would not allow her to send a flier about this weekend's holiday gift and craft fair, an annual fund-raiser for the PTO.

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