John and Jane Doe v. Wilson County School System

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(No. 3:06-0924, United State District Court of Middle Tennessee, Nashville Division, Judge Robert Echols)

ACLU-TN Cooperating Attorney: Edmund J. Schmidt, III, Law Offices of David Randolph Smith& Edmund J. Schmidt, III (Direct Representation)

Plaintiffs: Jane and John Doe, as the Natural Parents and Next Friends of Their Minor Child, James Doe

Defendants: Wilson County School System; Dr. Jim Duncan, Director of Wilson County Schools; Wendell Marlowe, Principal of Lakeview Elementary School; Yvonne Smith, Assistant Principal of Lakeview Elementary School; and Janet Adamson, teacher at Lakeview Elementary School

Intervening Defendants: Doug and Christy Gold, individually, and on behalf of their minor children H.G. and J.G. and James and Jennifer Walker individually, and on behalf of their minor child A.W.

In Doe v. Wilson County School System, ACLU-TN argued on behalf of the Doe family that the Wilson County public school system unconstitutionally endorsed religion.

The plaintiffs alleged that the Wilson County school system promoted a range of religious activities, including the “Praying Parents,” “Prayer at the Flag Pole,” the National Day of Prayer event and teacher-led classroom prayers. “The Praying Parents” were identified on the school website as a group of parents who meet monthly “to pray for our school, faculty, staff, and children.” The group, which met in the school cafeteria at the start of the school day, was endorsed in the school’s monthly newsletter; their flyers were distributed to students; and their members would enter the classroom to inform students that “the Praying Parents” prayed for them. In addition, plaintiffs had evidence of teacher-led prayer and religious singing in the classroom.

The lawsuit was filed only after repeated attempts by the plaintiffs to end the religious activities in their child’s school had failed. Despite plaintiffs’ requests, Wilson County school administrators continued to promote and sponsor the religious activities and school administrators indicated to the parents that they intended to continue to do so. ACLU-TN’s lawsuit alleged that the school administrators went so far as to encourage the family to withdraw their child from Lakeview Elementary School. The family felt forced to home school their child.

In December 2007, the federal court granted our request for injunctive relief on the majority of ACLU-TN’s claims, finding that the defendants had engaged in a clear pattern and practice of promoting and endorsing religion.

Status: Closed

Related Documents

Legal Documents

Doe v. Wilson – Complaint (September 27, 2006)

Doe v. Wilson – Decision (May 29, 2008)