Public School Teacher Participating in After-school Christian Club Legal, Court Ruled

In a case represented by Liberty Counsel, a federal appeals court ruled that a public school teacher may participate in an after-school religous club at the same school she teaches at during the day.
( [email protected] ) Sep 07, 2004 08:29 PM EDT

The first ruling of its kind, a federal appeals court ruled Sept. 3 that a Sioux Falls public school teacher could take part in an after-school Christian club held at the same elementary school where she teaches.

"Wigg seeks nothing more than to be treated like other private citizens who are allowed access to Club meetings," the three-judge panel said in its ruling in Wigg v. Sioux Falls School Dist.

Mrs. Wigg’s “participation in the after-school Club constitutes private speech … [and that her] private speech does not put the [District] at risk of violating the Establishment Clause,” the court ruled.

The court’s ruling overrode a lower court’s decision that Wigg could only participate in the religious club at a school other than the one where she taught in the daytime or would violate the Establishment Clause

Barbara Wigg sued the Sioux Falls School District, represented by Liberty Counsel, after she was prohibited from participating in Good News Club, an after-school Christian club sponsored by Child Evangelism Fellowship.

Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, who represented Wigg stated, “Barbara Wigg cried for joy when I informed her of this great victory. Many public school teachers across America have been waiting with anticipation for this decision.”

“Public school teachers and employees have the same right to participate in Christian clubs for students or adults immediately after school just like those who participate in secular clubs,” he added.

“Teachers who desire to take off their official teaching hat and put on a private one, step down the hall after the last bell, and participate in religious clubs have been finally liberated by this Court’s decision. When the state accommodates private religious speech in public venues, it is acting consistent with the best of our constitutional guarantees,” concluded Staver.