Kountze school board to receive public input Tuesday night on religious banners ban
KOUNTZE - By Megan Dillard - It was standing-room only at a Kountze public hearing tonight. The school board opened the doors at Kountze Intermediate School and asked the public to offer opinions about a ban the board enacted last year. Last football season, Kountze High School cheerleaders made religious banners and held them up at football games. KISD put a ban in place after receiving a complaint from a group that said the banners were unconstitutional. The cheerleaders and the state attorney general feel the ban violates the students' free speech rights. A judge blocked the ban pending the outcome of a lawsuit set for trial in June. Nearly 20 people spoke before the Kountze school board tonight. Only one person was against lifting the ban. KFDM spoke with that woman and with a family who hopes the school board will reconsider. Heads bowed, eyes closed, some people who live in Kountze expressing religion. It's the same show of Christian faith that landed the small southeast Texas town in the national spotlight and in the middle of a lawsuit. The Kountze school board listened to people who live in Koutnze at a public hearing Tuesday night. 16 of the 17 speakers who addressed the board asked the district to lift the ban on religious signs at sporting events. This woman is the only one who supports the ban. "I'm glad I was here to at least show support to kids in Kountze that are not Christians that are afraid to come forward." Lindsey Brackin graduated from Kountze High School in 2005. A member of the drill team for four years, Brackin is familiar with policies regarding wearing a uniform and what she says that represents. "They have free speech, but when you're acting as a representative, you fall under the separation of church and state in the first amendment. You represent all kids. You have to support all your students." These students are two of the cheerleaders who made the banners. Twin sisters Ashton and Whitney agree. The girls aren't backing down. "We're not just little cheerleaders who are going to lay down. We stand up for what we believe in. We stand up for our god." The sisters say the cheerleaders made the signs without instruction. "It was student-led, it was just about us, and we did what we thought was right and we looked in the handbook and we made sure if it was student-led we could do it." A crowded room representing a town divided. A school board with much to consider as the people of Kountze offer their thoughts. After the public hearing the board passed a motion to allow ten more days for people to offer written and spoken comments. The cheerleaders' attorney David Starnes says he's disappointed with the decision. Those in favor of the board overturning the ban were hoping for a decision tonight.
KOUNTZE, Texas -- The Kountze Independent School District has unanimously passed a motion to allow an extended ten day period for written and spoken comments from the public. The period will start Wednesday and end at 4 pm March 8. More tonight at 10.
(AP) -- A southeast Texas school board will take public comment on its decision to bar high school cheerleaders from displaying religious messages on banners at sporting events.
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Kountze Independent School District's interim superintendent, Reese Briggs, says the board won't take any action at Tuesday evening's meeting but wants to hear from the public. The district implemented the ban last year after receiving a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which is dedicated to the separation of church and state. The group says the banners amounted to an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion. Cheerleaders and the state attorney general contend that the ban violates the students' free speech rights. A judge blocked the ban pending the outcome of a lawsuit set for trial in June. Kountze school board to receive public input Tuesday night on religious banners ban
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