The Enfield Board Of Education: Stupid Is As Stupid Does

by Ryan McKeen

The Enfield Board of Education has decided to appeal Judge Hall’s ruling barring the town from holding graduation at the First Cathedral. Courant.

The Board is going to lose this appeal. They’ll lose before the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and if they decide to seek cert, they’ll lose before the Supreme Court too.

Please let me indulge my inner Dr. Seuss for a second: the Board will lose here, the Board will lose there, the Board will lose everywhere.

The law is the law. The law says this is illegal. People are free to disagree with the law or seek to change it for that matter. I understand that the First Cathedral may be the most comfortable venue for graduation, however, first amendment rights trump comfort every day of the week.

Perhaps the board should read Tom Mooney’s Connecticut Educational Law Treatise, A Practical Guide to Connecticut School Law. In his treatise, Attorney Mooney does an excellent job explaining why prayer at graduation violates the establishment clause of the first amendment. If prayer in a secular location violates the first amendment, what in the world makes the board think that having a graduation in a church does not violate the first amendment?

It’s kind of like a doctor telling a patient not to eat candy because it’s bad for the patient’s heart. The patient heeds the advice of the doctor and cuts out peanut M&M’s from his diet.  The patient then runs out and orders a Friendly’s 2090 calorie Cinnamon Swirl French Toast and exclaims it’s okay because he’s not eating “candy”.  It was hard to write a paragraph that stupid but I think it’s on a stupidity par with Board’s decision to pursue an appeal.

I find it very telling that the Board is not being represented by their usual counsel  in this appeal. The Board can point to cost as the issue but I’m willing to bet that their paid lawyers actually told them that this was illegal.

I’m also willing to bet that the Board did what clients often do when they don’t like the advice they’re given…. find a lawyer who will tell them what they want to hear.

The Board would be better served if it spent less time listening to the likes of Glenn Beck and more time reading Judge Hall’s opinion. Her opinion is legally correct. Like it or not, Judge Hall properly applied the law to the facts.

There is nothing surprising or remotely legally controversial about Judge Hall’s opinion.  Nothing at all.

The Board’s insistence to carry on this foolish fight is going to cost the town. One of the reasons the ACLU is entitled to attorneys fees is to deter towns from making exactly these kinds of decisions.

I hope the board members who voted to carry on this appeal are willing to indemnify the town for the cost of their foolishness. Make no mistake about it, this could cost the taxpayers of Enfield several hundred thousand dollars before this case is settled.

Last night the Board voted to incur a significant and certain liability at the expense of the taxpayers. And for what?

Indemnification may force some members of the board to file bankruptcy. What do they have to lose? They’re already intellectually bankrupt.

4 thoughts on “The Enfield Board Of Education: Stupid Is As Stupid Does

  1. Ryan, this article was sent to me on FB by a friend who has been following this case as closely as I have.I am a parent of a graduating senior at EHS and I am ashamed of my town. I have written letters to the BOE and got mostly good feedback from the “minority”, and one very snotty response from one the Stokes’ disciples. What is happening is terrifying to me. And all the parents and students are talking about is tickets and air conditioning, still. Narrow minded, intellectually bankrupt, and the worst of all fellow graduates of mine from ’79 totally brainwashed over ….air conditioning. Great article, keep up the good work on reporting the truth. (of course those narrow minded folk will never get near this website but it’s their loss)

  2. The irony is for the amount the town is going to get hit with in attorneys fees they could purchase nice air conditioning units for their gyms and some video equipment to show the graduation live for an overflow audience in auditoriums.

  3. My real problem with them is that they have done something horrible and irreparable to the graduating seniors. At a time that should be happy for all involved they have created a situation for the purpose of furthering their religious agenda that has needlessly divided the town. The members of the Board of Education who voted have robbed members of a graduating class of something joyful. They should be ashamed of themselves.

  4. My son was convinced by the Fermites that going to the cathedral is the way to go. He is 18, just wants the diploma, doesn’t see the big picture and doesn’t care. He is angry that the “adults” making these decisions are ruining the moment.
    A few weeks ago I could tell he was being swayed by his religious grandparents and right winged father…he came home (my home,my secular home where I raise him by myself) and said “great, thanks to you liberals, we can’t graduate at the cathedral, and there won’t be air conditioning and unlimited tickets”. How offensive is that? What kind of demon seed did I raise?
    Since then I have been attempting to keep him up to date on the facts… and he of course being 18 is not getting it. It is still all about air conditioning and tickets. I told him that I was willing to sacrifice my beliefs and go to the cathedral if I absolutely had too…doesn’t’ really faze him.
    Thank goodness my older son who graduated in 07 (on the EHS field) turned out better. A poly sci major, economics minor at AU in DC..he is appalled by this whole thing from afar.

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