WASHINGTON, ill. – A central Illinois high school that was recently barred from sponsoring prayer at its graduation ceremony has announced that it will not appeal the court's decision.
The Washington Community High School Board announced Monday that the cost to appeal U.S. District Judge Joe B. McDade's ruling would be "staggering," citing estimated expenses of at least $50,000, compared with the district's $10,000 annual budget for attorney fees.
"We have to consider our main purpose, and that's educating students. We're talking about money that's better spent on textbooks and materials," Superintendent Lee Edwards said.
The lawsuit against the school district was filed by Washington High valedictorian Natasha Appenheimer and her family, who charged that organized prayer at a school graduation violated the Constitution.
The case resulted in a temporary restraining order banning an invocation or benediction at the school's May 20 graduation, marking a halt to the school's 80-year tradition.
The school board directed its attorney to settle the case and said Monday that it expects the order to become a permanent ban.
A hearing is set for Aug. 6 to determine how much, if any, the district should pay the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented Appenheimer, for legal fees.