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Snow Owl

Closed Unit

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Can a Troop or Pack be a closed Unit?  As in the Pack/Troop is limited to Scouts from the School who is the Chartering Organization?

 

A School wants Scouting programs but is concerned about youth who are not students of that school using School facilities, benefiting from School support etc.  This is not just a financial concern but also security and legal.  The units would meet at School after hours on school grounds where everyone must have a school ID or get a guest pass from the office. 

 

My reading of everything I could find is that this is within the Chartering Organization discretion.

 

 

Thoughts or Experience?

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Yes. I have seen Catholic, Jewish, and LDS churches have closed units.

 

I think a school should fall under those principles as well, but it might depend on whether it was a public or private school. That determination might be best made by someone with knowledge of your local legal system.

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Yes, but if scouts at that school unit cannot recruit their friends from other schools, they often leave scouting.

Edited by RememberSchiff
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I would think that if this is a public school, it would be hard to limit it to students of just that school. Does this school encompass all grades? If not, how do you have older and younger Scouts in a single unit? If they are planning on having a Pack and a Troop, how do you make that all work? Do you not allow kids who live in town but go to other (private, parochial, etc) schools, since the funds would be paid by taxpayers?

 

If it is a private school, that would be a horse of a different color, but I think that limiting yourself to just students of that particular school is not a recipe for a successful unit, unless it is a relatively large school.

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If the CO is a public school, meaning the school itself or the board of education, rather than a separate organization AT the school such as a PTA or PTO, I would think there is a problem with it being a CO at all.  Not mentioning the name of any long-time poster who might be interested in this subject, if he's still checking this forum.

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I am looking for more of the BSA position.  We are trying to add units at public schools, actually public charter schools.  Their position or question is how or why would this be any different than the school football team (softball, volleyball, etc), band, chess club etc?

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If the CO is a public school, meaning the school itself or the board of education, rather than a separate organization AT the school such as a PTA or PTO, I would think there is a problem with it being a CO at all.  Not mentioning the name of any long-time poster who might be interested in this subject, if he's still checking this forum.

 I am curious, Why would it be a problem for the school to be the CO?

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 I am curious, Why would it be a problem for the school to be the CO?

 Uh-oh, now I've done it.

 

I will try to say this as neutrally as I can.  We have had dozens of threads on this subject and I don't necessarily want to start another one.  I just want to answer your question.

 

A public school is owned and operated by a goevernmental entity (usually a school district.)  It is therefore part of "the government" for purposes of the constitutional restrictions on what "the government" may do or not do.  That includes the First Amendment, specifically the Establishment Clause, which has been interpreted to mean that the government may not provide preferential treatment to one religion or religious belief over others.  The BSA as a matter of National policy denies membership to atheists, and requires its units to do the same.  Therefore, if "the government" (such as a public school) owned and operated a BSA unit, it would be denying the benefits of its program to certain people (atheists) on the basis of religious belief (or non-belief).  The government cannot do that.  Therefore, public schools cannot be CO's for BSA units.

 

Some people disagree with what I just said, but even the BSA seems to agree with it. When the BSA was challenged on this point some years back, they switched the charter for all remaining public-school-chartered units to other organizations.  In many cases (including the Cub Scout pack that my son was in and that I was a leader in), this did not change where the unit meets.  The pack still meets at the school, but it is chartered to the PTO, not the school.

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 I am curious, Why would it be a problem for the school to be the CO?

 

 

Public school and Charter requirements would be in conflict. Even an organization at a public school could face the same issue depending on the local/state laws. 

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I am looking for more of the BSA position.  We are trying to add units at public schools, actually public charter schools.  Their position or question is how or why would this be any different than the school football team (softball, volleyball, etc), band, chess club etc?

 

I didn't see this post before.  I guess this is going to be sort of Part 2 to my answer to your other question.

 

A "public charter" school may present an interesting question. I am somewhat unclear on the nature of these schools in terms of public vs. private.  Are they public schools or private schools?  I know they receive public funds through tuition for the students paid for by the public school districts, but in and of itself that does not make it a public school.  If, for example, an office-supply company sold exclusively to public schools, all of its revenue would be derived from public funds, but that still wouldn't make it a publicly owned company.  I suspect that a "public charter" school would be classified as "private", but I am not certain.  If I am correct, they could be a CO of a BSA unit.  Even so, a better move might be to have a "parents organization" be the CO but still meet in the school.  I suspect your DE can be helpful in this area.

 

As for your question about sports teams, chess club, etc.:  If it is a PUBLIC school, the football team cannot exclude atheists, nor can the chess team, marching band, robotics club, etc.  The difference between those teams and clubs, and a Cub Scout pack or Boy Scout troop, is that the BSA says its units MUST exclude atheists.

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Public school and Charter requirements would be in conflict. Even an organization at a public school could face the same issue depending on the local/state laws. 

Sorry  - I still do not see the conflict

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Okay - not trying to kick old arguments up. 

 

 Uh-oh, now I've done it.

 

I will try to say this as neutrally as I can.  We have had dozens of threads on this subject and I don't necessarily want to start another one.  I just want to answer your question.

 

A public school is owned and operated by a goevernmental entity (usually a school district.)  It is therefore part of "the government" for purposes of the constitutional restrictions on what "the government" may do or not do.  That includes the First Amendment, specifically the Establishment Clause, which has been interpreted to mean that the government may not provide preferential treatment to one religion or religious belief over others.  The BSA as a matter of National policy denies membership to atheists, and requires its units to do the same.  Therefore, if "the government" (such as a public school) owned and operated a BSA unit, it would be denying the benefits of its program to certain people (atheists) on the basis of religious belief (or non-belief).  The government cannot do that.  Therefore, public schools cannot be CO's for BSA units.

 

Some people disagree with what I just said, but even the BSA seems to agree with it. When the BSA was challenged on this point some years back, they switched the charter for all remaining public-school-chartered units to other organizations.  In many cases (including the Cub Scout pack that my son was in and that I was a leader in), this did not change where the unit meets.  The pack still meets at the school, but it is chartered to the PTO, not the school.

 

Ah, okay - I know of several units, sponsored by public schools, not PTAs or any other subdivision but the school itself,  so I am not sure about BSA agreeing with you;  or perhaps they have changed their mind - they are targeting public schools here specifically which is what raised the questions for our district.

 

BSA has interesting positions and protections See 20 US Code 7905 "Equal Access to Public School Facilities"  Which I believe contradicts your premise

Edited by Snow Owl

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I didn't see this post before.  I guess this is going to be sort of Part 2 to my answer to your other question.

 

A "public charter" school may present an interesting question. I am somewhat unclear on the nature of these schools in terms of public vs. private.  Are they public schools or private schools?  I know they receive public funds through tuition for the students paid for by the public school districts, but in and of itself that does not make it a public school.  If, for example, an office-supply company sold exclusively to public schools, all of its revenue would be derived from public funds, but that still wouldn't make it a publicly owned company.  I suspect that a "public charter" school would be classified as "private", but I am not certain.  If I am correct, they could be a CO of a BSA unit.  Even so, a better move might be to have a "parents organization" be the CO but still meet in the school.  I suspect your DE can be helpful in this area.

 

As for your question about sports teams, chess club, etc.:  If it is a PUBLIC school, the football team cannot exclude atheists, nor can the chess team, marching band, robotics club, etc.  The difference between those teams and clubs, and a Cub Scout pack or Boy Scout troop, is that the BSA says its units MUST exclude atheists.

 

Oh good lord (pun intended), that is not exactly what it says.  This has been discussed ad nauseam and is not what I am trying to flesh out.

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I didn't see this post before.  I guess this is going to be sort of Part 2 to my answer to your other question.

 

A "public charter" school may present an interesting question. I am somewhat unclear on the nature of these schools in terms of public vs. private.  Are they public schools or private schools?  I know they receive public funds through tuition for the students paid for by the public school districts, but in and of itself that does not make it a public school.  If, for example, an office-supply company sold exclusively to public schools, all of its revenue would be derived from public funds, but that still wouldn't make it a publicly owned company.  I suspect that a "public charter" school would be classified as "private", but I am not certain.  If I am correct, they could be a CO of a BSA unit.  Even so, a better move might be to have a "parents organization" be the CO but still meet in the school.  I suspect your DE can be helpful in this area.

 

As for your question about sports teams, chess club, etc.:  If it is a PUBLIC school, the football team cannot exclude atheists, nor can the chess team, marching band, robotics club, etc.  The difference between those teams and clubs, and a Cub Scout pack or Boy Scout troop, is that the BSA says its units MUST exclude atheists.

 

Charter Schools are considered public schools. There are no prohibitions against allowing religious groups to use the facilities. The issue is that the school may not say some are allowed and others aren't. If they open the doors for one group, they must open them to all. Some schools get around this by not allowing ANY groups the use of their facilities. 

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