Tentative settlement on Ohio school Jesus portrait suit

Published on Friday, 12 July 2013 11:53 - Written by

JACKSON, Ohio (AP) — A tentative settlement has been reached in a federal lawsuit challenging the display of a portrait of Jesus that had been in a southern Ohio school for decades.

The Columbus Dispatch reported in Friday's editions that U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley ordered the two sides to submit the settlement to his court within 90 days. No details were disclosed with what was described as a handwritten agreement reached with the help of a federal magistrate.

"We're happy to have a tentative agreement," said American Civil Liberties Union spokesman Nick Worner. "Our primary concern is that the portrait comes down and stays down."

An attorney for Jackson City Schools declined to comment because the settlement isn't final.

The school district had taken the portrait down in April, saying it couldn't afford the potential legal costs of defending against the lawsuit. Court filings say the Jesus portrait has since returned on the school lawn for a prayer meeting and also has been visible to those entering an art-storage area in the school.

The Ohio ACLU and Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation charged in the lawsuit filed in February that having the portrait hang in a middle school entranceway violated the Constitution by promoting a religion in a public school. The district had displayed the portrait since 1947.

Jackson is a city of some 7,000 people, 70 miles south of Columbus.

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Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.