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Case Name Schultz v. Medina Valley Independent School District FA-TX-0001
Docket / Court 5:11-cv-00422-FB ( W.D. Tex. )
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Case Summary
Summary posted to the Clearinghouse on August 4, 2020:

On May 26, 2011, an agnostic graduating senior at Medina Valley High School, his older brother (a former student at the school), and their parents filed suit against the Medina Valley Independent School District in the U.S. District ... read more >
Summary posted to the Clearinghouse on August 4, 2020:

On May 26, 2011, an agnostic graduating senior at Medina Valley High School, his older brother (a former student at the school), and their parents filed suit against the Medina Valley Independent School District in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. Represented by Americans United for Separation of Church and State and by private counsel, the plaintiffs asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, nominal damages, and attorneys’ fees, alleging that the School District had violated their First Amendment rights. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that the school district, was in violation of the Establishment Clause by engaging in a course of conduct that included “presenting, sponsoring, encouraging, inviting, or coercing prayers at school and school-sponsored activities and events; displaying and permitting the display of crosses and other religious icons; and retaliating against students who complain[ed] about the unlawful promotion of religion or who decline[d] to participate in religious prayers, practices, or rituals.”

The plaintiffs moved for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction on the same day that they filed their complaint, hoping to enjoin the school district from featuring prayer at the upcoming high school graduation ceremony scheduled for June 4, 2011, two weeks after the complaint was filed. After a hearing on May 31, the District Court (Judge Fred Biery) granted their motion on June 1, finding that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits and that failing to issue an injunction would result in irreparable harm to the plaintiffs. It ordered the terms “invocation” and “benediction” stricken and any official group prayer removed from the graduation program.

The school district made an emergency interlocutory appeal to the Fifth Circuit, and on June 3, 2011, a three-judge panel (Judges W. Eugene Davis, Jerry E. Smith and Leslie H. Southwick) issued a per curiam opinion granting the motion to dissolve the temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. The panel stated that they were not persuaded that the plaintiffs were “substantially likely to prevail on the merits, particularly on the issue that the individual prayers or other remarks to be given by students at graduation were, in fact, school-sponsored.”

The injunction was dissolved, and although the terms “invocation” and “benediction” had already been removed from the printed program, the graduation ceremony the following day included prayer as originally planned.

On July 11, 2011, the district court urged the parties to attempt to settle rather than engage in protracted litigation, and the parties agreed to try mediation. At the end of the summer, however, they reported that they had been unable to reach an agreement.

On September 6, 2011, the school district moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction. This motion was mooted by the plaintiffs’ submission of an amended complaint on November 2, but the school district submitted a second motion to dismiss the amended complaint for lack of jurisdiction on December 9, 2011. A month later, the district moved for summary judgment. The plaintiffs subsequently moved for partial summary judgment on the issue of school prayer.

The court never ruled on any of these motions, however, because the parties were able to settle their dispute in February 2012. On February 8, they submitted a joint motion to approve a proposed agreement. Under the terms of the settlement, the school district agreed to stop initiating, soliciting, or directing prayers at school events, displaying religious symbols and texts at schools, and inviting religious speakers to proselytize, or to play any part in writing or editing student graduation speeches. It further agreed to train its staff in how to comply with the agreement, educate students on religious diversity, and refrain from retaliating against or disparaging the plaintiffs. The agreement allowed student-led prayer at events. The court retained jurisdiction to enforce the settlement for ten years.

On February 9, 2012, the court entered a consent decree approving the settlement.

The following month, the court was called upon to enforce it—the school superintendent and the high school band director each made statements that could be construed as disparaging of the plaintiffs (the former referring to the lawsuit as a “witch hunt” and the latter calling the plaintiffs liars) shortly after the settlement was approved.

On March 19, 2012, the court issued an order requiring the district to apologize, and requiring the plaintiffs to accept the apology. Both did so.

As of August 4, 2020, the case is inactive, but the court retains jurisdiction through February 2022.

Christopher Schad - 06/13/2012
Virginia Weeks - 11/12/2017
Michael Beech - 03/23/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Establishment Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Content of Injunction
Apology
Discrimination Prohibition
Preliminary relief denied
Preliminary relief granted
Retaliation Prohibition
Training
Defendant-type
Elementary/Secondary School
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Religious programs / policies
School/University policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) Medina Valley Independent School District
Plaintiff Description Two agnostic students of the Medina Valley Independent School District and their parents
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2012 - 2022
Filed 05/26/2011
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Schultz v. Medina Valley Independent School District
https://www.au.org/
Date: Jul. 18, 2012
By: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
5:11-cv-00422-FB (W.D. Tex.)
FA-TX-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/22/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
FA-TX-0001-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/26/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Order [Granting] Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 18] (W.D. Tex.)
FA-TX-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/01/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
[Fifth Circuit] Order [Dissolving Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction] [Ct. of App. ECF# 00511498424 ]
FA-TX-0001-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/03/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Advisory and Order Concerning Procedures to Reach Resolution of the Merits of This Case [ECF# 31] (W.D. Tex.)
FA-TX-0001-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/11/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint [ECF# 75]
FA-TX-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/02/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Order on Pending Motions [ECF# 76] (W.D. Tex.)
FA-TX-0001-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/07/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendant's Second Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject-Matter Jurisdiction [ECF# 98]
FA-TX-0001-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/09/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF# 118]
FA-TX-0001-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/04/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs’ Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [ECF# 122]
FA-TX-0001-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/05/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Press Release
FA-TX-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/09/2012
Opininon and Order of the Court Concerning Joint Motion to Approve Settlement and Enter Consent Decree [ECF# 136] (2012 WL 517518 / 2012 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 19397) (W.D. Tex.)
FA-TX-0001-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/09/2012
Settlement Agreement and Release Arising During Mediation [ECF# 136-1]
FA-TX-0001-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/09/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Non-Kumbaya Order [ECF# 140] (2012 WL 933115 / 2012 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 37130) (W.D. Tex.)
FA-TX-0001-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/19/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Biery, Samuel Frederick Jr. (W.D. Tex.) show/hide docs
FA-TX-0001-0001 | FA-TX-0001-0004 | FA-TX-0001-0006 | FA-TX-0001-0011 | FA-TX-0001-0013 | FA-TX-0001-9000
Davis, W. Eugene (W.D. La., Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
FA-TX-0001-0005
Smith, Jerry Edwin (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
FA-TX-0001-0005
Southwick, Leslie (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
FA-TX-0001-0005
Plaintiff's Lawyers Flanary, Donald H. III (Texas) show/hide docs
FA-TX-0001-0003 | FA-TX-0001-0009 | FA-TX-0001-0010 | FA-TX-0001-0012 | FA-TX-0001-9000
Khan, Ayesha N. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FA-TX-0001-0003 | FA-TX-0001-0009 | FA-TX-0001-0010 | FA-TX-0001-0012 | FA-TX-0001-9000
Lipper, Gregory M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FA-TX-0001-0003 | FA-TX-0001-0009 | FA-TX-0001-0010 | FA-TX-0001-9000
Luchenitser, Alexander Joseph (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FA-TX-0001-9000
Wilgus Null, Taryn C. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FA-TX-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Castillo, Stacy Tuer (Texas) show/hide docs
FA-TX-0001-0007 | FA-TX-0001-0008 | FA-TX-0001-0010 | FA-TX-0001-9000
Wood, D. Craig (Texas) show/hide docs
FA-TX-0001-0007 | FA-TX-0001-0008 | FA-TX-0001-0010 | FA-TX-0001-9000

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