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Saucon Valley School Board updates after-school club rules in wake of Satan Club lawsuit

Saucon Valley Middle School
Donna Fisher
For LehighValleyNews.com
Saucon Valley Middle School.

HELLERTOWN, Pa. — Saucon Valley School Board on Tuesday approved new after-school policies that govern how their building can be used by non-school sponsored entities and individuals.

The vote comes after a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union filed on behalf of the Satanic Temple and the Afterschool Satan Club, which alleges the district violated the law when it agreed to let the club use its facilities then reversed that decision in February. There was no public comment and no significant points of debate about the changes among board members.

  • Saucon Valley School District changed its after-school policies in the wake of a federal lawsuit from Satanic Temple
  • The Satan Club was denied access to hold events starting in March
  • A lawsuit by the ACLU says the SVSD violated the club's First Amendment rights

The Satanic Temple is asking the federal court to order that the club be allowed to hold meetings on campus before the end of the school year. Requests for comment to the ACLU and the Satanic Temple did not receive an immediate response.
The board's changes make it clear it has the right to revoke permission to use its facilities and the group would forfeit the chance to submit future applications if the district determines it violates any of its policies or the terms under which the permit was granted unless the school board approves it.

The new policy changes the application process, provides definitions for groups that would apply to use space in the district buildings and more clearly spell out the adverting requirements.

Specifically, it requires the organizations to prominently display in any promotions of events being held on school grounds to say the event is not “is not approved or sponsored by the Saucon Valley School District or its Board of Directors.”

The advertisements must only use a street address and room number and not the words “Saucon Valley” or “SVSD” when describing the location. The applicants must be district residents.

Under the new policy, events by non-school-sponsored entities and individuals can't start before 6 p.m. and must conclude by 10 p.m. That also applies to school-affiliated organizations, non-profit and civic groups and athletic leagues. Events that are sponsored by the school district or are board-approved are exempt from this requirement.

Non-school-sponsored entities and individuals are also prohibited from passing out fliers or other promotional material during school hours on school property, at any school-sponsored events, or directly to students. This doesn't apply to school-affiliated groups.

In a recent court hearing on the lawsuit, Saucon Valley Superintendent Jaime Vlasaty defended the decision to deny the Satan Club use of the facilities.

Vlasaty said the organization broke the rules on advertising because its promotional material made it appear the event was sponsored by the district.

“Hell broke loose in my district,” she said, citing a threat they received made by a man in another state to come and “shoot everyone.”

Vlasaty told the judge the Satanic Club would be welcome to reapply under the new rules.