Kountze ISD reveals new policy on religious banners - 12 News KBMT and K-JAC. News, Weather and Sports for SE Texas

Kountze ISD reveals new policy on religious banners

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Attorney David Starnes Attorney David Starnes

The Kountze Independent School District believes it has found a middle-ground solution to the controversy surrounding the use of religious-themed run-through banners. The board hopes the policy will put an end to the impending court case, but David Starnes, the attorney representing the cheerleaders in their fight for free speech, says it changes nothing.

"It's not a middle of the road policy," Starnes said. "It's a policy of a government takeover."

Kountze ISD interim superintendent Reese Briggs says the policy, approved by the school board at Monday's meeting, would allow the use of such banners, but they would first have to be inspected and approved by an administrator.

"The school district should have the right to approve what goes on banners," Briggs told 12News over the phone on Thursday. "We want any kind of banner to have positive messages... but we should be allowed to allow it, not required to allow it."
When asked if the new policy would allow religious messages to be written on banners, Briggs said "I would think so."

But Starnes isn't convinced. "I suggest that they're changing their position so that they can control the message, and therefore control the speech."

State law requires the school board to hold two readings of the new policy at two consecutive meetings, so it's not the official policy yet. 

Briggs says the school district is awaiting clarification from Judge Steve Thomas on the legality of the new policy. The injunction lifting the ban on the banners will expire this summer. A hearing in the matter is scheduled for June 17th.


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