Saucon Valley SD Says It Won’t Reverse Decision Rescinding After School Satan Club’s Facility Access | WDIY Local News
The Saucon Valley School District will not allow a controversial after school club to use its schools for meetings, despite a national civil rights organization saying the district is violating the First Amendment.
The ACLU of Pennsylvania said Tuesday that the Saucon Valley School District will not reverse its decision to deny the After School Satan Club access to school facilities.
The ACLU and ACLU of Pennsylvania sent a letter to district superintendent Jaime Vlasaty and the district’s solicitor last week asking that Saucon Valley School District reinstate the club’s scheduled meeting dates.
Sara Rose, deputy legal director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said in statement that, “it’s unfortunate that the school district is doubling down on its unconstitutional and discriminatory action against the club and The Satanic Temple.”
In their letter, the ACLU said under the First Amendment, Saucon Valley School District cannot deny the After School Satan Club access to its facilities based on its speech, religious identity or viewpoint.
The Supreme Court ruled on this issue in the 2001 case Good News Club v. Milford Central School District.
The civil rights group also noted that the district has allowed other outside organizations to use school facilities, including religious groups like the Good News Club.
Rose said the ACLU’s clients, the After School Satan Club and The Satanic Temple, are considering their next steps. In their letter, the group said its clients “reserve all rights” to pursue litigation.
In mid-February, the district initially approved allowing the club to meet at Saucon Valley Middle School. However, in a Feb. 24 letter, Vlasaty said she was rescinding the club’s facility usage, citing a violation of district policy.
The ACLU disagreed with the district’s cited reasoning for the violation – that The Satanic Temple failed to clearly state that the club’s activities were not affiliated with the district.
The group said letters and permission slips about the After School Satan Club included a proper disclaimer stating that the club “is not an activity of the school or the School District.”
It also pointed to statements which noted that the After School Satan Club is sponsored by The Satanic Temple.
The ACLU also claimed that the Good News Club, a Christian program, previously distributed material without language clarifying that its meetings are not district-sponsored.
Vlasaty’s letter came days after Saucon Valley School District shut down due to a threatening voicemail which referred to the After School Satan Club.
A 20-year-old North Carolina man, Ceu Uk, was charged and arrested in relation to the message.
In the letter, the ACLU said that threats of violence in response to the club’s application for facility usage is unacceptable. But, it also said that there is “no evidence” that the club’s promotional material provoked the threat.
“It was only after the District received complaints and threats of violence in response to ASSC’s application that you rescinded approval, granting opponents of our clients’ speech and religion a classic ‘heckler’s veto’ in violation of the First Amendment,” the group wrote.
(Original air-date: 3/8/23)