Saucon Valley School District rescinds approval of After School Satan Club
L. SAUCON TWP., Pa. - Amid a growing controversy that resulted in schools being closed and students returning under heightened security, the Saucon Valley School District on Friday rescinded approval for an after-school club sponsored by The Satanic Temple.
Superintendent Jaime Vlasaty said she decided to rescind approval for the After School Satan Club to use space at Saucon Valley Middle School.
She made the announcement in an email message sent to Saucon Valley community members.
- The superintendent cited school board policy in rescinding approval for the club's use of facilities
- It comes two days after schools were closed because of a threat
- The next school board meeting is 7 p.m. Tuesday at the high school
Administrators granted approval last week, saying federal law prohibited the district from barring a religious group's use of facilities based on their viewpoints. The district has allowed other religious groups to use space, under its policy.
Vlasaty said she reversed course because the applicants "failed to meet the District requirements outlined in School Board Policy 707, subsequently violating this policy."
Her message did not elaborate on the policy or specify how it was violated.
Policy 707 pertains to the use of school facilities. The policy's stated purpose says, "School facilities of this district should be made available for community purposes, provided that such use does not interfere with the educational program of the schools."
Wrote Vlasaty in her message Friday: "As a result of this violation, the educational programming and activities of the District [have] been significantly impacted and it has caused unequivocal disruption to the District’s daily operations.
"Our community has experienced chaos."Superintendent Jaime Vlasaty
"Our community has experienced chaos. Our students, staff and teachers have had to endure a threat to their safety and welfare. The gravity of feelings of instability, anxiety and fear have been profound."
Word of the district's approval and an online flier soliciting sign-ups for the club sparked outrage earlier this week.
On Tuesday, someone called the district and reportedly left a threatening voicemail that referenced the decision to allow the club.
Lower Saucon Township police launched an investigation and administrators decided to close schools Wednesday. Social media has been ablaze with the controversy.
In her message, Vlasaty called for calm.
"Aside from my decision to rescind approval, I implore the Saucon Valley community to eliminate threatening, hateful and divisive language and behavior, and make a commitment [to] supporting our students and reinforcing the values of our community.
"I firmly believe that we can create a safe and inclusive environment within our District where everyone is respected and valued no matter their opinions and beliefs, but we must first model this within our homes, our community and with one another."
The Satanic Temple describes itself as a “non-theistic religion that views Satan as a literary figure who represents a metaphorical construct of rejecting tyranny and championing the human mind and spirit.”
June Everett, a minister in The Satanic Temple in Colorado and campaign director for the After School Satan Club, told LehighValleyNews.com the group are not devil worshippers but instead stands up to "tyrannical authority" and supports individual rights.
Everett said Saucon Valley's was to be the first After School Satan Club in Pennsylvania but there are several nationwide. They are often organized as a counter to evangelical Christian extracurricular groups such as the Good News Club.
The Saucon Valley School Board next meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the high school.
The first meeting of the After School Satan Club was to be March 8.
A flier soliciting members said the club is open to children ages 5-12 with parental permission. Students from other school districts were to be permitted to attend with a signed permission slip, according to the flier.