That’s the amount of money the Rhode Island ACLU has billed the Cranston School District for their court costs. And they’re being generous:
In a release, Steve Brown, executive director of the RIACLU, said the amount includes major discounts for hours of work by volunteer attorneys Lynette Labinger and Thomas Bender. He also said the amount is mindful of the school district’s budget woes in recent years.
“In terms of its complexity, the ACLU noted that the school district initially raised ten affirmative defenses when it filed its answer to the lawsuit. The amount sought by the ACLU attorneys pales in comparison to the attorneys’ fees that lawyers working with the Becket Fund, the national group that assisted the school district in defending the case, obtained in a church-state lawsuit two years ago. In that case from Colorado, dealing with a church zoning dispute, attorneys working with the Becket Fund were awarded over $1.25 million in attorneys’ fees for their work handling the case in the district court.”
“The Cranston School Committee was fully informed from the beginning that a decision to move forward with this case would likely result in the payment of attorney’s fees if they were not successful,” Brown said. “In fact, in an attempt to avoid the costs of litigation and spare the taxpayers, we waited eight months before filing suit in the hope that this matter could be informally resolved. Despite those efforts, the school committee voted to mount a vigorous defense of the prayer in court, leading to today’s filing.”
As a teacher, part of me feels bad that this money is being taken away from the students… but the school district brought this upon themselves. They wanted to fight to keep an illegal Christian banner in their auditorium. They wanted to push religion onto all students. They could’ve just taken down the banner right up front and put that money toward more teachers and more resources, but they chose not to.
The adminstrators in that district cared more about their public display of religion than the education of the children. They deserve to pay a penalty for that. Too bad the taxpayers have to foot the bill.