NEW KENSINGTON (KDKA/AP) – A Ten Commandments monument was placed on school property in front of Valley High School in New Kensington in 1957, back when Dwight Eisenhower was president.
But now, because of a lawsuit initiated by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, it will soon be moved.
The New Kensington-Arnold School District says it’s removing the six-foot granite marker as part of a settlement with the group that went to court challenging the religious display on school property.
The challenge was filed by a student and her atheist mother in 2012.
The district will pay out nearly $164,000 in attorneys’ fees, including $40,000 to lawyers who argued against the district in court.
In a written statement, the Freedom from Religion Foundation said, in part, “Students in our public schools are free to have any God they want, as many Gods as they like… or none at all.”
It went on to say, “In America, we live under the First Amendment, not under the First Commandment.”
Immediate reaction in New Kensington seemed to side with the idea of leaving well enough alone.
“It’s been there for a long time, it’s not hurting anybody, and the school is in such disrepair. If they’re going to worry about things like that, that really makes me wonder why?” parent Benjamin Josefoski said.
Dan Spiering, of New Kensington, said, “If they need a place to put it, I’ll put it up for them. It’s crazy the way people think anymore; it’s terrible.”
School Superintendent Dr. John Pallone told KDKA-TV’s Ralph Iannotti, “Based on advice from our lawyers, and the insurance company, we made a rational decision to move on.”
He said, “The irony is, there was a public outcry to keep the monument there, but it has been a distraction in recent years.”
The School District now has the next 30 days to remove the monument. Once it’s taken down, it will be placed in storage, until they find a new home for the marker, one that doesn’t involve school property.
(TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)