Georgia District Settles Lawsuit

By Sean Cavanagh — January 09, 2007 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The theory of evolution will appear in biology textbooks in a suburban Atlanta school district—without any stickers, stamps, labels, or warnings attached to it.

Officials of the Cobb County, Ga., system have settled a long-running federal lawsuit by agreeing to keep written disclaimers declaring evolution “a theory, not a fact” and calling for it to be “critically considered” from being affixed to science texts.

The Cobb County school board originally voted to place stickers on the textbooks in 2002, but a group of parents in the 106,000-student district sued to halt the decision. They said the disclaimers violated the constitutional ban on government establishment of religion.

In 2005, U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper, in Atlanta, ordered the stickers removed. But last year, a federal appeals court sent the decision back to his court, citing concerns about the record of evidence in the case.

While maintaining that the stickers were constitutional, Cobb County officials said last month that they did not want to prolong the legal fight. “[W]e faced the distraction and expense of starting all over with more legal actions and another trial,” the board’s chairwoman, Teresa Plenge, said in a Dec. 19 statement.

The settlement came almost a year after a federal judge in Pennsylvania issued a sweeping decision declaring that the Dover, Pa., school district’s policy promoting a supposed alternative to evolution was unconstitutional. The judge said that the alternative, called intelligent design, amounts to religious belief; legal observers have predicted that his ruling would make it harder for districts to single out evolution for what scientists say is unsubstantiated criticism, when students are told of the theory in science classes. (“Possible Road Map Seen in Dover Case,” Jan. 4, 2006.)

The theory of evolution states that humans and other living things have developed over time through natural selection and random mutation. Intelligent design holds that living things show signs of having been shaped by an unidentified creator.

The Cobb County disclaimers have not appeared on textbooks since Judge Cooper’s 2005 order, district officials say. The settlement calls for the district to keep any “stickers, labels, stamps, inscriptions, or other warnings” about evolution off science texts. District officials agreed to pay $167,000 for the plaintiffs’ legal expenses.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the January 10, 2007 edition of Education Week


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Data Webinar
Education Insights with Actionable Data to Create More Personalized Engagement
The world has changed during this time of pandemic learning, and there is a new challenge faced in education regarding how we effectively utilize the data now available to educators and leaders. In this session
Content provided by Microsoft
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Accelerate Learning with Project-Based Learning
Earlier this year, the George Lucas Educational Foundation released four new studies highlighting how project-based learning (PBL) helps accelerate student learning—across age groups, multiple disciplines, and different socio-economic statuses. With this year’s emphasis on unfinished
Content provided by SmartLab Learning
School & District Management Live Online Discussion Principal Overload: How to Manage Anxiety, Stress, and Tough Decisions
According to recent surveys, more than 40 percent of principals are considering leaving their jobs. With the pandemic, running a school building has become even more complicated, and principals' workloads continue to grow. If we

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Curriculum From Our Research Center Privacy, Porn, and Parents in the Room: Sex Education's Pandemic Challenges
After more than a year of instructional shifts and social isolation, students need sex education that is media-savvy and relationship-wise.
7 min read
Conceptual image of students feeling isolated, but also trying to connect.
Mary Haasdyk for Education Week
Curriculum Calls to Ban Books by Black Authors Are Increasing Amid Critical Race Theory Debates
Books about race and the experiences of Black Americans are being challenged by parents who claim they make white children feel uncomfortable.
8 min read
Fans of Angie Thomas, a Jackson, Miss., resident whose book, "The Hate U Give," has been on a national young adult best-seller list for over 80 weeks, show off their copies at a reception and book signing for the author, in Jackson on Oct. 10, 2018. Thomas' novel has crossed over to a wider audience than simply young adults. The reception honored her writing as well as the coming release of the big screen adaption of the first novel.
The young adult best-seller "The Hate U Give" was one of the top 10 most challenged books of 2020.
Rogelio V. Solis/AP
Curriculum District That Banned Diverse Books Reverses Its Decision After Pushback
A Pennsylvania district voted unanimously to reinstate a four-page list of resources from some of today's most acclaimed creators of color.
Tina Locurto, The York Dispatch, Pa.
3 min read
Image of books on a library shelf.
Curriculum He Taught About White Privilege and Got Fired. Now He's Fighting to Get His Job Back
Matthew Hawn is an early casualty in this year's fight over how teachers can discuss with students America's struggle with racism.
13 min read
Social studies teacher Matthew Hawn is accused of insubordination and repeated unprofessional conduct for sharing Kyla Jenèe Lacey's, 'White Privilege', poem with his Contemporary Issues class. Hawn sits on his couch inside his home on August 17, 2021.
Matthew Hawn is accused of insubordination and repeated unprofessional conduct for lessons and materials he used to teach about racism and white privilege in his Contemporary Issues class at Sullivan Central High School in Blountville, Tenn.<br/>
Caitlin Penna for Education Week