Springfield family loses lawsuit over Pledge

2013-05-16T04:00:00Z Springfield family loses lawsuit over PledgeBy LORI PILGER / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

A judge has ruled against a Springfield family who sued over a requirement that Nebraska's public schools set aside time daily for the Pledge of Allegiance.

Lancaster County District Judge Robert Otte said Pamela Stanosheck failed to specifically allege what injury her three children suffered because of the pledge rule passed by the Nebraska Department of Education last August.

The rule requires that all students in grades K-12 recite the Pledge of Allegiance daily in the presence of a flag, although students can choose to stand or sit silently as long as they respect those who wish to participate.

The Nebraska Attorney General’s Office and the governor approved the change before it went into effect Sept. 15.

In December, Stanosheck's husband, Omaha attorney Kevin Stanosheck, filed the petition for declaratory judgment on behalf of his wife and their three children, asking the court to declare the rule invalid.

In the petition, Kevin Stanosheck alleged the department had acted outside its statutory authority because the rule wasn't based on a program of study, guidance services, the number and preparation of teachers, instructional materials or health and safety of building grounds.

He argued it could result in the loss of accreditation, and he said the court had the authority to declare the regulation invalid if it found that it violated constitutional provisions, exceeded its statutory authority or was adopted without complying with statutory procedures.

The state countered that the Stanoshecks didn't even have standing to bring the action.

And, in his order Monday, Otte agreed, saying the possible loss of accreditation, which the Stanoshecks had alleged, was remote and speculative.

He said the court could not use the "unsupported conclusions and inferences to satisfy the need for sufficient factual allegations."

Otte said there was another issue, too.

"They have not alleged a distinct and palpable injury that is actual or imminent rather than one that is conjectural or hypothetical," the judge said.

At this point, he said, the allegations in the lawsuit were not enough to show an injury "much less that the declaration invalidating the Pledge rule would provide redress."

He said the question of whether the department exceeded its statutory authority in adopting the rule was not before the court and he did not address it.

Otte gave Stanosheck 21 days to file an amended complaint, or he would dismiss it.

Kevin Stanoscheck did not return a call Wednesday seeking comment.

Reach Lori Pilger at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com or follow her on Twitter at LJSpilger.

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