FOX47 NEWS - Church vs. School

Jeff Angileri
Sep 14, 2008, 4:04 PM

The Sun Prairie School District is facing a federal lawsuit over the fees it charges to religious groups that want to use its facilities.

Like on any other Sunday, Prairie View Middle School is hosting Sunday prayer services. The Open Door Church is renting the space inside.

The Sun Prairie School superintendent said it's one of hundreds of organizations that rent the building annually.

I've seen gun safety training, boy scouts, churches, political groups, different youth activities, day care, said Superintendent Tim Culver.

But then came a lawsuit, filed late last week. A Christian legal group is suing the district on behalf of the Open Door Church.

The suit alleges the district's policy of charging fees to religious groups, and not charging some non-religious groups is discriminatory and unconstitutional.

The district has not been served with legal papers yet, and couldn't comment on the specifics in the lawsuit.

But in general, Culver said the district follows a complicated formula when collecting money from organizations.

How do you protect the interest of tax payers by collecting fees, which pay for utilities, maintenance services, versus providing space for community groups, he said.

Culver said any group is welcome to dispute the rental fees using an internal review process. He said the open door church did not take advantage of that service.

Despite repeated attempts, no one with the open door church would agree to an interview.

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