Plaintiff appeals dismissal of Bible classes lawsuit

By Kyla Asbury | Dec 15, 2017

BLUEFIELD – One of the plaintiffs and her child are appealing the dismissal of a lawsuit against Mercer County Board of Education for its Bible in the Schools classes.

BLUEFIELD – One of the plaintiffs and her child are appealing the dismissal of a lawsuit against Mercer County Board of Education for its Bible in the Schools classes.

Elizabeth Deal and her child, Jessica Roe, are appealing to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals-Fourth Circuit, according to Dec. 14 court documents.

U.S. District Judge David A. Faber dismissed the lawsuit filed by FFRF on the grounds that the plaintiffs lacked standing or brought claims that were not yet ripe in November.

FFRF had filed the suit on the behalf of four plaintiffs earlier this year against Mercer County Schools, the board of education, the superintendent and a school principal.

Farber’s dismissal on jurisdictional grounds was without prejudice, meaning that the case can be re-filed if the school system resumes any Bible classes.

The court did rule that Jane Doe—another parent of a current elementary student—and FFRF have standing, but that the case was no longer ripe, since the classes were suspended.

FFRF and Doe have not appealed the decision as it pertains to ripeness.

In a press release, FFRF said it could bring suit against the school system if the Bible classes return to elementary and middle schools.

FFRF Senior Counsel Patrick Elliott, serving as co-counsel, noted FFRF has accomplished a great victory in halting the classes, but remains concerned that the school district may try to resume the inappropriate indoctrination.

Deal discussed her daughter’s mistreatment on a “CBS This Morning” news segment highlighting FFRF’s case.

“They taunted her about it,” she told CBS. “They told her that she was going to hell, that I was going to hell, that her father was going to hell.”

Bible in the Schools classes were taught in Mercer County Schools for more than 75 years

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled such instruction unconstitutional in the landmark McCollum v. Board of Education case in 1948.

FFRF won a court victory before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals-Sixth Circuit, ending similar Bible instruction in Rhea County, Tenn., schools in 2004.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number: 1:17-cv-00642

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