(CN) – Two teachers and a principal in Tennessee can sue the school board for shutting down the alternative Christian school where they worked and contracting instead with a private school, a federal appeals court in Cincinnati ruled.
Steve Smith, David Kucera, and Vickie Forgety sued the Jefferson County School Board after the board moved the alternative program to Kingswood Academy and eliminated their jobs in a round of budget cuts.
The plaintiffs claimed their First Amendment rights against the establishment of religion were violated, because Kingswood is a Christian school for abused and neglected children.
The trial court granted summary judgment to the school board, but the 6th Circuit reversed the decision and remanded the case for further proceedings.
Judge Moore ruled that there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Christian values are espoused in the school’s day program and its residential program.
“If the day program was infused with the same focus on Christianity as the residential program,” Moore wrote, “a reasonable person could conclude that the board was endorsing religion by delegating all of its duties to Kingswood.”