An Austin-based law firm has issued cease and desist letters to at least four North Texas school districts over “In God We Trust” posters which attorneys claim are not compliant with state law.
Under Senate Bill 797, schools are required to display signs or posters bearing the national motto in a conspicuous place provided that the signs were donated to the school or bought with private donations.
The bill authored by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) was passed last year.
Trenton Lacy, an attorney with Kaplan Law Firm in Austin, represents four North Texas parents from four different school districts: Carroll, Grapevine-Colleyville, Keller and Mansfield ISDs.
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“Under the Texas statutes, there are only three things that can be on the sign,” Lacy said Friday. “The concern with these signs is that the Texas flag is overrepresented on them. There’s two representations, instead of one. There’s also dozens of five-point stars kind of littering the background of the signs. All of this constitutes kind of the extraneous information on the signs that’s just not by the state legislature.”
Patriot Mobile donated the posters that Lacy claimed are non-compliant. The company’s website claims to be “America’s only Christian conservative wireless service provider” and “donates a portion of every dollar earned to support organizations that fight for First Amendment Religious Freedom and Freedom of Speech, Second Amendment Right to Bear Arms, Sanctity of Life and the needs of our Veterans and First Responders.”
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NBC 5 reached out to the company for comment Friday. We have not received a response as of this writing.
Laura Leeman is the mother of two children who are enrolled at Grapevine-Colleyville ISD. She and other parents dropped off posters that also have “In God We Trust” written, with “God” printed in rainbow.
“Our schools are supposed to be all-inclusive and it feels very un-American to only have one God in a particular format,” Leeman said. “I’m doing this for my children. I believe America, right now, we’ve had enough. I feel like democracy is on the line.”
She added, her broader message goes beyond the signs.
“I’m trying to also trying to point out the ridiculousness of our legislature creating a bill and passing a bill to have only a sign that says “In God We Trust” in the manner of which it was formulated,” she said. “I hope that the Legislature responds. I hope that the voters respond. I hope more parents and our community members respond, because this is ridiculous.”
A spokesperson for Grapevine-Colleyville ISD confirmed the district received a copy of the cease and desist notice, which is being evaluated. Similarly, a spokesperson for Keller ISD confirmed they have received the cease and desist request.
“It is our practice not to comment on issues of pending or potential litigation,” an emailed statement read.
A spokesperson for Carroll ISD stated the district’s legal counsel is currently reviewing the notice they received.
NBC 5 reached out to a spokesperson for Sen. Hughes on the matter. We have not heard back as of this writing.