Tags: ACLU | atheist | prayer | Cranston
Image: Rhode Island City, Schools to Pay ACLU Legal Fees After Prayer Banner Fight
The vanquished prayer mural was a gift from the class of 1963. (AP Photo)

Rhode Island City, Schools to Pay ACLU Legal Fees After Prayer Banner Fight

Wednesday, 07 Mar 2012 04:46 PM

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The city of Cranston, R.I., and its school district will pay $150,000 to the state American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) chapter for legal fees associated with the ACLU’s successful challenge to a prayer mural that had been displayed for nearly 50 years in a high school auditorium.

The ACLU’s original bill was $173,000, said Raymond Votto, the school district’s chief operating officer, but school and city officials agreed on the lesser amount, the Providence Journal reported.

At a news conference Tuesday at Cranston High School West, where the 8-foot mural had been displayed, Votto said the school district paid workers about $2,500 to remove it and a slab of the auditorium wall. The banner, a 1963 class gift, was removed on Saturday, and the auditorium was closed Monday for the repairs.

The school removed the banner to comply with a judge’s ruling in the case of a 16-year-old atheistic student, Jessica Ahlquist, who complained that the prayer made her feel “ostracized.” The ACLU took up her cause and billed the city and school district for its legal fees.

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