Enfield (Conn.) Board of Education Accepts Settlement Offer In Graduation Site Lawsuit

Marion Herbert's picture
Friday, July 20, 2012

The settlement ends more than two years of litigation over use of a Bloomfield church for commencement exercises.

A two-year-old lawsuit filed in protest of the Enfield Board of Education's practice of holding high school graduations in a Bloomfield megachurch came to an end Wednesday night, when the board voted to accept a settlement proposal made by two activist groups who brought the suit.

In 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed suit on behalf of two high school students and three parents, who objected to holding graduation ceremonies at the First Cathedral Church.

During construction of a new athletic complex,Fermi High School held its graduation at the church in 2007. Both Fermi and Enfield HighSchools utilized the church in 2008 and 2009.

 

After the board decided to hold the ceremonies in Bloomfield again in 2010, the lawsuit was filed, and District Court Judge Janet Hall issued a temporary injunction barring use of the religious building for a public school function. Commencement exercises at both schools have been held on school grounds since then, with the 2012 ceremonies taking place for the first time on the new artificial turf fields.

Under terms of the settlement, the school board agreed not to hold future graduations at the church. The plaintiffs' legal fees would be partially reimbursed, reportedly up to $500,000, by the Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency (CIRMA), the Board of Education's insurance provider.

 

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