The Good News Clubs in the Marysville, Washington School District will now be allowed use of the District facilities for fees equal to secular clubs, after the District retreated from charging the Good News Club more for use of the facilities than other secular clubs. The Good News Clubs are elementary after-school clubs which teach morality and character development from a Christian perspective.
The Director of CEF in Snohomish County, Washington, contacted Liberty Counsel after the District stated that Washington state law requires the District to charge CEF more for its use of school facilities than it charges similar secular clubs. The District charged the Boy Scouts 50 cents per hour for use of the facilities but charged CEF more because the club is religious. Liberty Counsel immediately sent a demand letter to the District, claiming that Washington state law does not require the District to target religious groups and charge fees for use of school facilities when other clubs, such as the Boys Scouts, are not charged similar fee amounts. After an exchange of letters between Liberty Counsel and the District, the District reversed its decision to charge the Good News Club excessive fees. The District has also agreed to reimburse CEF for all past excessive fees paid by the Good News Club for use of the facilities.
School districts may not charge discriminatory fees to Good News Clubs for using school facilities just because they have a religious affiliation. Equal access under the First Amendment means equal treatment across the board, as the Courts have established.
Mathew D. Staver is President and General Counsel of the Liberty Counsel./>