A man represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has filed a lawsuit challenging the Franklin Township School Board’s alleged policy of opening meetings with exclusively Christian prayers.
The suit filed Tuesday on behalf of Duane Nickell before Judge Tanya Walton Pratt in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana seeks an injunction and a declaration that the practice violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The complaint alleges that prayers are given by school board members and are “invariably Christian with the School Board member-officiant referring to Jesus or Christ.”
A Franklin Township Schools representative said Wednesday there would be no immediate comment on the suit.
The suit says Nickell has an interest in attending board meetings and has in the past. It says he “strongly objects to prayer being given in this setting and objects to the prayer practices of the School Board as he believes that it sends a message of non-inclusion to members of the community who are not Christian or who object to such public prayer.”
Franklin Township Community School Corp. in southeast Marion County had an enrollment of 9,069 students in the 2015-2016 school year, according to the Indiana Department of Education. The district includes one high school, seven elementary schools and two middle schools.
The suit is Duane Nickell v. Franklin Township Community School Corp., 1:16-cv-3193.