‘After School Satan Club’: Lebanon schools ask public not to protest first meeting Thursday
WARREN COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX) - Lebanon City Schools is asking the public not to gather or protest Thursday as the “After-School Satan Club” meets for the first time in one of the district’s buildings.
A chapter of The Satanic Temple’s After-School Satan Club will hold weekly meetings in the cafeteria at Donovan Elementary School for about an hour after classes end each.
It has prompted concerns from parents and religious leaders and drawn national attention.
Last week, school officials released a statement to families that says, in part, the club “...is NOT a district or school-sponsored event. Lebanon City Schools do not endorse the activities or intent of this group or any other religiously affiliated groups offering after-school activities.”
On Wednesday, Superintendent Isaac Seevers announced a safety plan was in place so the club could meet.
Over the past week, parents and residents have expressed concern over comments made online regarding Donovan Elementary School and the after school facility rental that is occurring Thursday, January 27. Student and staff safety is the number one priority of Lebanon City Schools and we are aware of the comments made online.
We have reviewed our school safety plan and met with Lebanon Police officials to develop an Emergency Operations Plan for this event:
- Please be aware that protests and unauthorized assemblies are not permitted on school grounds. Any group seeking to form an official protest must contact the City of Lebanon to request a Special Event permit from the city. For additional information, call the City: (513) 932-3060.
- All unauthorized visitors are required to stay off of school grounds and refrain from parking in the school parking lots. If visitors do not comply with this request, they will be asked to leave by school administration and law enforcement.
- News media outlets will not be permitted to enter school grounds or to come inside of the school building without prior approval from the Superintendent’s Office. Students and staff will not be made available for interviews or comments.
- The City of Lebanon has designated the sidewalks along Justice Drive, in the public right of way, as the place where media and community members are permitted to gather. Parking is not permitted on school grounds, in school parking areas, or in the county parking lots.
- Our facilities are used throughout the evening for many different activities and parents will begin arriving to deliver their students for basketball practice and other evening activities after school hours. All doors to Donovan Elementary School will be locked as soon as the staff return to the building following student dismissal after school. Doors will not reopen for evening practices until the building has been cleared following the after school club. To ensure the safety of everyone involved, no one will be permitted to enter the building after school unless they are a staff member, approved sponsor of the club, or students attending the club.
- District Administration and a School Resource Officer will be onsite Thursday afternoon assisting with student dismissal and safety in and around the school building at the time of the club meeting. Additional law enforcement officials will be present in the area as well, to ensure the safety of our staff, students, and participants in after school activities.
I ask everyone in our community to please be cognizant of the fact that we are operating a school, which serves 8 to 10 year old students, and student dismissal is taking place between 3:30 and 4:00 p.m. We must be able to get students safely out of the building and united with their families or on their buses to travel home.
I was on site yesterday during dismissal at Donovan Elementary and throughout the entirety of a regularly scheduled after school club that was taking place. The building was secure, and we did not permit any unauthorized individuals to enter the facility. All groups deserve this same right to peacefully assemble and we ask that you please offer the same level of respect on Thursday afternoon. The district does not and is not legally allowed to discriminate against any groups who wish to rent our facilities.
We take the safety of our students and community seriously and we are committed to providing a safe environment for this after school program. As a district we are thankful for our partnership with the city of Lebanon and their police department.
I am asking the public to please refrain from gathering at the school or protesting on or around school grounds. If you want to gather as a community during this time, please find another place in town. Please remember that we serve a young student population and some of them may have no idea why adults are gathering in support or opposition on Thursday afternoon. Please allow our staff and students to leave school peacefully and safely!
A flyer circulating on social media invites students to “The After-School Satan Club” promising “science projects,” “puzzles and games,” “arts and crafts projects” and “nature activities.”
The club is a chapter of The Satanic Temple, a multinational nonprofit that bills itself as a “nontheistic religious and human rights group.”
The club will hold four gatherings through the spring semester at Donovan Elementary School, according to the flyer.
All children in grades 1-5 are invited to attend regardless of religious background.
Parental permission is required to attend.
Seevers has said these guidelines apply to every after-school activity in the district.
The club is not sponsored by the district or Donovan Elementary, he has pointed out.
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