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Posted 03 Sep 2001   For week ended August 31, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 30Aug01

By Kent Larsen

Classroom Lease to LDS Church on Hold

PHOENIX, ARIZONA -- A plan to lease a high school classroom to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is on hold amid delays at the county attorney's office and criticism from civil rights groups, leading some 200 LDS students at Higly High School to be bussed to a nearby charter school for seminary. The plan to lease a classroom in an unoccupied building on the high school's campus was approved by the Higley school board on August 21st, contingent on the approval of the Maricopa County Attorney's office.

The plan arose as Church officials tried to find a place for students to meet for seminary, since an LDS seminary building now under construction across the street from the high school wasn't completed for the beginning of the school year. But the board thought the plan, which called for the Church to lease the classroom for $700 a month, might lead to legal challenges, and made it contingent on the city attorney's approval. School District Superintendant Larry Likes admitted that the lease could cause trouble, "You run that risk. The group you refuse to rent facilities to can take you to court."

After the decision was announced the American Civil Liberties Union also questioned the plan. "I am not sure it is constitutionally permissible even when paying rent to have this occurring during regular school hours," said ACLU Director Eleanor Eisenberg.

But school board member Ed Moore disagreed, saying he believes the deal is legal and constitutional because other organizations are welcome to lease the classrooms also, "I think other organizations who want to do this should come forward," Moore said. "We are not showing any favoritism."

When classes started this past Monday, the city attorney hadn't yet ruled on the plan, leaving the LDS Church to buss the 200 LDS students to a nearby charter school, Eagle Aeries Charter School, for seminary. Superintendent Likes says that the Church will have to live with the situation for now, "This is where we are and will continue to be until the county attorney rules on this issue."


Mormon kids taking religion at charter school
(Phoenix) AZ Republic 28Aug01
By Peter Ortiz: Arizona Republic

Higley board agrees to lease campus classroom to Mormons
(Phoenix) AZ Republic 23Aug01 D1
By Peter Ortiz: The Arizona Republic


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