It was reported on Thursday that the Jesus painting that had been hanging in the hallway of the Jackson Ohio middle school for 47 years and is at the heart of a 1st amendment lawsuit by the Freedom of Religion Foundation and the ACLU, has been moved to the High School at the request of the “owner” of the painting – the Hi-Y Club.
The school board had created a “limited public forum” at the middle school and High School and claimed the painting belonged to the Hi-Y Club in order to cover their obvious violation of the separation of church and state.
In Tuesday’s meeting Superintendent Phil Howard reported that he had received a letter a few days prior from the attorneys representing Hi-Y, and that a big change was underway.
The letter stated that since the portrait belongs to the Hi-Y Club, the Hi-Y Club had decided to remove the portrait from the middle school and move it to the high school where their club is currently housed.
“The school district has no choice but to respect the rights of the Hi-Y Club,” Howard continued. “Failure to do so might open the district to a lawsuit by the Hi-Y Club or violate the Establishment Clause by turning the portrait into government speech.”
Board President Randy Evans stated the following day that he was against allowing them to move the portrait, but said it apparently was not a decision of the board this time.
Hi-Y Club Advisor Bob Eisnaugle explained Wednesday afternoon that the students met last week and the majority voted to move the portrait from the middle school to the high school. “The picture belongs with the Hi-Y Club, which is a high school organization,” Eisnaugle said.
The news report I saw on my local station said they didn’t know what this meant for the lawsuit. But it is clear from the Jackson County Daily report what the intention is.
I see the lawyers for the school district going into court, point to the move, and claim “See, it isn’t a violation since the club moved it and we didn’t stop them. It isn’t government speech.”
It is a feint much like when the City of San Diego sold the small plot of parkland the Mount Soledad cross sat on so they could try to keep the cross in the park.
Here is the story I saw on my local TV 11 PM news: