New Day for Lee County, FL Schools

AFTER CONTROVERSY, MODERATES SCORE DECISIVE VICTORY OVER RELIGIOUS RIGHT IN SCHOOL BOARD ELECTIONS

By a wide margin, moderate Republicans have won control over the Lee County School board, after the citizens voted to oust one of the primary backers of a controversial and unconstitutional Bible History course.

"Lee County parents have reclaimed their schools," said People For the American Way President Carole Shields. "Parents want quality education for their children and they voted for a school board that will make children their top priority -- not their own ideological or religious agenda."

Board Chairman Douglas Santini lost to challenger Terri Wampler 69 percent to 31 percent. And board member Katherine Boren – who opposed the Bible history course -- won her re-election bid over a Religious Right-backed candidate, 60 percent to 40 percent. Finally, board member Bill Gross, another member of the faction that favored the Bible history course, finished a weak second and will be in a runoff after receiving just 32 percent of the vote.

Before Tuesday’s election, the Religious Right faction controlled the Lee County School Board by a 3-2 margin. After Tuesday’s election, moderates will control the board by either a 3-2 or a 4-1 margin, depending on the results of the October runoff.

Late last year, Lee County parents and other concerned citizens filed suit against the Lee County School Board because of the Board’s efforts to unconstitutionally advance religion in public school classrooms by teaching the Bible as history. People For the American Way Foundation served as co-counsel for the parents in the lawsuit, which was settled in favor of the parents in February. During the current election campaign, People For the American Way provided technical assistance and training for pro-education grassroots activists in Lee County.

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