A Virginia high school honor student who was at first denied credit by her school district for her community service work performed at a church has been reinstated into the honor society chapter, but not before officials were served with a lawsuit by a Christian legal alliance.
The Alliance Defense Fund said that the Fairfax County School Board's community service policy discriminates against students who volunteer with religious organizations.
ADF has not dropped the federal lawsuit even though the district has since reconsidered its decision and credited the unnamed 17-year-old student for her community work.
Matt Sharp of the Arizona-based alliance says he applauds the Fairfax County Virginia schools for reversing their initial action, but the lawsuit stands, according to news reports.
"They can't just stop there. There's this unconstitutional policy that underlies this whole case," said Sharp, as reported by OneNewsNow.com. "The school district-wide policy prohibits any credit for community service work done ... if that community service work is done at a church."
Two other students in the district have alerted ADF of the exact same issue since the lawsuit, according to Sharp.
He said it is obvious that the incident is "not just a one-time situation, but it's a pervasive problem that the district has to remedy here by getting rid of this bad policy."
Apparently, the National Honor Society has no issues with the student's volunteer hours, but the board's "faith-based service policy" is the basis for the problem, Sharp said.
The Washington Post reported that the honor society requires 12 service hours per year. The student spent 46 hours volunteering with a church Sunday school program "open to the wider community." According to the Post article, her activities included "playing games, singing religious songs, doing crafts and teaching Bible lessons."
"Neither the school principal nor the School Board was aware of this student's concerns until the lawsuit was filed," school officials said in a statement. "Upon being informed of this issue, Fairfax County Public Schools administrators determined that the student was mistakenly denied credit for the volunteer service hours needed to maintain membership in the National Honor Society."
ADF officials said they hope that the court will force Fairfax to change its policy. They argue that it violates the Constitution's First and Fourteenth Amendments.