Fargo school leaders: We didn’t ban ‘pro-life clubs’

Fargo public school administrators Thursday rejected a constitutional challenge to their refusal to allow “pro-life clubs” at two high schools.

In a letter to the district a week ago, the Thomas More Society alleged the Fargo schools were suppressing students’ speech by refusing to allow the clubs.

Today, the school system released its own letter, calling the allegations “inaccurate.”

It said the students wishing to form the clubs didn’t submit an application in one instance, and submitted an incomplete application in the other.

Administration at Davies High School informed students they would be given space for their group to meet. At North High School, the same opportunity was given and the students were also encouraged to not give up, to meet and see if other students were interested in forming a club and to continue to seek to find an advisor.

Fargo Public Schools would never intentionally discriminate against a student or a student group. Fargo Public Schools has been applying the Establishment Clause and utilizing the “Lemon Test” to determine approving activities that occur within a school consistent with the separation of church and state.

After receiving the concerns outlined in the letter regarding the Federal Equal Access Act and after due research and guidance from legal counsel, the District will now use the guidance provided by the Equal Access Act when making decisions regarding equal access to facilities.

Yesterday, a Fargo TV station released emails within the administration on the subject, which it said showed one of the principals had concerns that the club was “religious in nature.”

In today’s letter, the Fargo Public School District said it will review its policies on clubs before next school year begins.

Update 2:13pm 4/17 Statement from Thomas More Society:

“We’re encouraged by the District’s acknowledgment that it will abide by the requirements of the law going forward, but we’re greatly disappointed by the way it’s now chosen to misrepresent the history here in order to place the blame on the students. Never were they denied for paperwork reasons. Throughout the process, the schools and the district had consistently made their position clear—one of illegal censorship based on the message of the club.”

Jocelyn Floyd, Associate Counsel, Thomas More Society

(h/t: Ann Arbor Miller)