School Vs. Church: Fairfax Backs Down | News
ANNANDALE, Va (WUSA) -- Religious freedom and an about face for Fairfax County schools.
A high school honor student sued the school district after an advisor refused to credit her for volunteer hours she served at her church.
But now the schools have decided to give the unnamed girl the credits -- and reinstate her to the honor society.
In her lawsuit, the 17 year old senior at the prestigious Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, alleges that by denying her credit for these volunteer work hours at her church Sunday school, the school here is effectively denying her a shot at an up to 13-thousand dollar scholarship, and violating her fundamental right to religious freedom.
"There's no honor in saying to an honor student, 'your community service at a church doesn't count,' says Jordan Lorence who represented the teenager on behalf of the conservative Alliance Defense Fund.
The "bible-believing Christian" told her adviser she was "at a loss" to understand why Fairfax Schools chose to "discriminate against" her 46 hours volunteer work at her church. "It was clearly wrong and unconstitutional," says Lorence.
The school district says the just-filed lawsuit was the first time it heard about the problem. Spokesman John Torre says the Honor Society adviser misread the school policy. "The student will be credited with the service hours she performed at her church and she will have her full membership restored in the National Honor Society."
Lawyers for the 17 year old say this is not the end of it. They still want the schools to rewrite the official policy on volunteer hours at church. And they want the high school senior made whole for any scholarship deadlines she might have missed.
Fairfax County says it is reviewing its written policy of volunteer hours.
The lawyers from the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund have brought a number of these First Amendment Freedom of Religion lawsuits around the country.
Written and Reported by Bruce Leshan
9News Now & wusa9.com