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04 January 2006

Dover school board won't appeal Intelligent Design decision

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The Philadelphia Inquirer (Pennsylvania USA)
Wednesday 4 January 2006

Dover drops intelligent design
in 8-1 board vote

by Amy Worden, Inquirer Staff Writer

DOVER, Pa. -- The school district at the center of a national debate over evolution last night swiftly buried the controversial policy that put it there.

Voters here in November kicked out almost all of the board members who had originally imposed the policy. The reshaped school board last night voted unanimously to remove intelligent design from high school biology classes.

The step was only a formality, coming two weeks after U.S. District Judge John E. Jones 3d ruled that the Dover Area School District violated the U.S. Constitution when it approved the policy in 2004.

As expected, the new board also voted, 8-1, not to appeal the judge's ruling. That vote put an end to what was widely viewed by both religious fundamentalists and the world's scientific community as a test case on intelligent design.

"It's all done," Board President Bernadette Reinking said. "I am looking forward to being a normal board and to move forward with educational things."

The nine-member board -- eight members newly elected -- voted to rescind the policy requiring the reading of a statement pointing out "gaps" in Darwin's theory of evolution and offering intelligent design as an alternative.

Tammy Kitzmiller, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit over the policy, smiled broadly after the vote and said she hoped it was the end of the debate in the school district.

"I don't think some citizens will let it die, but as far as the curriculum goes, it's dead," she said, holding an envelope addressed to her from someone in Texas with an anti-Semitic slur scrawled on it.

Heather Geesey was the only remaining member of the board that approved the intelligent design policy, and she cast the sole vote against the motion not to appeal the case. Before voting, she made an appeal in vain to allow the Thomas More Law Center, of Ann Arbor, Mich., which had represented the board in the lawsuit, to continue its fight to legitimize intelligent design as science.

On Dec. 20, Jones, in a decision viewed as a major victory for the scientific mainstream, concluded that intelligent design, the position that the complexity of the universe can be explained only as the work of an unidentified designer, was biblical creationism in disguise. Jones also found that the board's decision to implement the policy was motivated by a religious agenda.

One area resident, Brett Miller, spoke out against the ruling last night during the board meeting. Miller said he hoped that school vouchers would be approved so he could choose how his children are educated "rather than be dictated to" by a judge.

Contact staff writer Amy Worden at 717-783-2584 or



Following is the complete letter to the editor written by Dover school board member Heather Geesey and published in the June 27, 2004, York Sunday News:


This letter is in regard to the comments made by Beth Eveland from York Township in the June 20 York Sunday News. I assure you that the Dover Area School Board is not going against its mission statement. In fact, if you read the statement it says "to educate our students so that they can be contributing members of society."

I do not believe in teaching revisionist history. Our country was founded on Christian beliefs and principles. We are not looking for a book that is teaching students that this is a wrong thing or a right thing. It is just a fact.

All we are trying to accomplish with this task is to choose a biology book that teaches the most prevalent theories. The definition of theory is merely a speculative or an ideal circumstance. To present only one theory or to give one option would be directly contradicting our mission statement.

You can teach creationism without its being Christianity. It can be presented as a higher power. That is where another part of Dover’s mission statement comes into play. That part would be in partnership with family and community. You as a parent can teach your child your family’s ideology.



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