CLEVELAND, OH - In a major victory for equal access, Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) has won a three-year lawsuit against the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD). An Ohio federal district court has approved a Consent Order finding that CMSD violated CEF's constitutional rights, requiring CMSD to change its facility use policies, and ordering CMSD to pay $150,000 in damages and attorney's fees.
In 2013, Liberty Counsel filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of CEF, seeking equal access to CMSD's public school facilities for CEF's after-school, Christian character education Good News Clubs. CMSD was providing free after-school access to non-religious community groups, such as the Boy Scouts, but refused to treat CEF equally. Instead, CMSD imposed facility fees which CEF could not pay, resulting in the shutdown of the Good News Club.
As a result of this victory, CMSD is now required to change its policies to ensure that religious groups are not discriminated against in the future, and receive the same access and benefits to public facilities as similarly situated non-religious groups.
Child Evangelism Fellowship has been encouraging learning, spiritual growth, and service to others for over seventy years and is currently active in every state in the union, as well as over 183 countries. Good News Clubs worldwide are providing religious and moral education to children in 43,186 clubs. In an April 2013 CEF survey, more than 87 percent of principals responded that after-school Good News Clubs have been a positive experience for their school, and over 52 percent reported improved behavior from students who participate in them.
Horatio Mihet, Vice President of Legal Affairs and Chief Litigation at Liberty Counsel said, "Equal access mean equal access. Public schools cannot discriminate against Christian viewpoints. It is a shame that CMSD wasted three years in litigation to learn a basic civics and constitutional lesson. We are elated with this victory for CEF, for equal access, and for our Constitution."