The After School Satan Club that has generated controversy in the Saucon Valley School District since it was first announced on Monday will no longer be able to meet on school property, superintendent Jaime Vlasaty announced Friday.
Vlasaty said in a statement that permission for the club to meet March 8 at Saucon Valley Middle School was rescinded after it was determined that sponsors the Satanic Temple and Reason Alliance had violated the district requirements outlined in school board Policy 707.
Policy 707, Use of School Facilities, outlines the requirements for outside groups to use district facilities and states that “school facilities… should be made available for community purposes, provided that such use does not interfere with the educational program of the schools.”
The policy further states that “the Board reserves the right to deny permission to use Saucon Valley District facilities when it deems this action to be in the best interests of the school district.”
After a flyer about the club was distributed to families–some of whom have registered outrage over it–the district received a “called in” threat related to the After School Satan Club and closed its campus Tuesday evening and Wednesday as police launched an investigation.
“As a result of this (policy) violation, the educational programming and activities of the District have been significantly impacted, and it has caused unequivocal disruption to the District’s daily operations,” Vlasaty said.
In her statement, she noted that the community as a whole “has experienced chaos” since the club’s formation was first announced, and said it has also impacted many people on a personal level.
“Our students, staff and teachers have had to endure a threat to their safety and welfare,” Vlasaty said. “The gravity of feelings of instability, anxiety and fear have been profound.”
She concluded the statement by asking members of the community to “eliminate threatening, hateful and divisive language and behavior, and make a commitment in supporting our students and reinforcing the values of our community.”
The Satanic Temple is defined as a religious organization, and as such has sponsored the formation of a handful of After School Satan clubs in school districts throughout the U.S. A 2001 U.S. Supreme Court decision requires public school districts to host religious groups and there is a chapter of the evangelical Christian “Good News Club” that meets on Saucon Valley School District property. The Satanic Temple says it “does not believe in introducing religion into public schools and will only open a club if other religious groups are operating on campus.”
The Satanic Temple defines its mission as one rooted in science.
“Proselytization is not our goal, and we’re not interested in converting children to Satanism,” its mission statement says. “After School Satan Clubs will focus on free inquiry and rationalism, the scientific basis for which we know what we know about the world around us.”
Despite the fact that information similar to this was included in the flyer, and that only children with parental permission may join the club, many parents from within and outside the district expressed fear about it, with one parent planning a prayer vigil in response to it. In light of Friday’s announcement, it is unclear if that vigil will be held.
It is also unclear whether the Satanic Temple may take legal action against the district, as it has recently in various other school districts in which boards have refused to allow After School Satan clubs to meet.
Meanwhile, Lower Saucon Township Police are continuing to investigate the threat that was made against the district.
In a statement Wednesday, police characterized the investigation as “a collaborative effort between the police department and the school district to ensure the safety of the students and staff of the Saucon Valley School District.” Anyone who may have information related to the case is asked to submit a tip to police via their Crimewatch Tipline or to call them at 610-317-6110.