Fairfax County's school board is facing legal action from a Christian group that said denying a student's church-related service hours for National Honor Society requirements discriminates against religious students.
The Alliance Defense Fund, based in Arizona, is representing the student. A spokesman told the Washington Post excluding activities widely considered "community service" in non-religious contexts is "an unconstitutional policy that needs to be remedied."
The student, an unnamed senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, submitted 46 church-related volunteer hours as part of a requirement for membership in the National Honor Society, which requires 12 hours per school year.
The hours were spent as a Sunday school leader, singing songs, doing crafts and teaching lessons to children, according to the suit.
Fairfax County students in grades 6, 8 and 12 can submit hours as part of a service learning initiative to earn recognition at graduation ceremonies. Various organizations within the school system can also have service hour requirements of their own.
The National Honor Society defers to its local chapters to make rules about what kind of community service counts toward its requirements, the Post reported.
The group's adviser told the student the hours did not count because they were done at a religious meeting, according to the suit.
The school system said in a statement to the Post that it was not aware of the situation until it was served with the suit. After it was filed, they credited the student with the hours and reinstated the student's membership, the Post reported.
The alliance plans to continue with the suit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, in hopes of forcing a policy change.
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