School Board Agrees to Drop Bible Class

This article was originally printed in the Los Angeles Times on March 7th, 1998.

FORT MYERS, Fla. — A Florida school board agreed Wednesday not to teach a controversial Bible study class, ending what would have been the first court test of the course.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, which sued the district, the Lee County School Board has agreed as part of a settlement of the case to replace the course from the National Council on Bible Curriculum with one the ACLU described as “secular, objective and neutral.”

The school board also agreed to allow the class to be monitored by audiotape for about one year and to pay court costs and attorneys’ fees.

“By agreeing to abandon its misguided curriculum, the school board has agreed to respect important constitutional principles requiring separation of church and state,” Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, said in a statement.

School officials declined to comment.

The suit, filed by the ACLU, People for the American Way and the Florida law firm Steel Hector & Davis, alleged that the course unconstitutionally used the Bible as a history book.

The Lee County School Board had voted 3 to 2 on Oct. 21 to adopt the North Carolina-based National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools program, which is supported by the Christian Coalition.