COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. Colorado Springs School District 11 has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed on behalf of students by the American Civil Liberties Union after the Gay-Straight Alliance group was denied certain privileges at Palmer High School.
The school board approved the settlement Monday by a 6-1 vote. The district will pay $90,000 in attorney's fees and fully recognize the alliance and other student groups not directly related to curriculum.
Alfred McDonnell, the students' attorney, said he was pleased with the settlement because it gives the club the same rights as others.
District attorney Eric Bentley said the district didn't believe it discriminated against the students, but decided to settle because the lawsuit was financially draining.
"The district defended the case all that time because it believed in the policy," he said. "It's simply become extremely expensive."
Palmer High School had created a two-track system for student groups. Groups deemed to be related to the curriculum were allowed to use the public address system and post notices. Organizations deemed to have no direct connection to curriculum - including the Gay-Straight Alliance - could meet at the school but not use the PA system or post notices.
The federal lawsuit was filed in 2003, arguing the policy was discriminatory and other clubs not related to curriculum, such as the Mountain Biking Club, were given more privileges.