FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CASE OF STUDENT ANIMAL RIGHTS ADVOCATE SETTLED A settlement has been

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CASE OF STUDENT ANIMAL RIGHTS ADVOCATE SETTLED A settlement has been reached between Woodstown- Pilesgrove school officials and Joseph G. McCool, father of Maggie McCool, the high school student who refuses for religious and moral reasons to dissect animals or observe specimens of animals killed for that purpose. The settlement, negotiated by volunteer attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, representing Maggie and her father, and atorneys for the school officials, and agreed upon by their respective clients, was approved yesterday by the Woodstown-Pilesgrove Regional board of Education. According to the settlement, Maggie, who had been given grades of zero for the assignments that she refused to perform, will have all grades for these assignments and for other work based on them stricken from her record, her course grade in biology recalculated without them, and any references to her refusal to study dead animals or her lawsuit removed from the permanent school record. In addition, the high school's Program of Studies each year will contain a statement that any student who has a sincere religious belief, as defined by federal and state case law, against dissection or observation of dead animal specimens will be excused from such assignments without penalty and will be given alternate assignments with appropriate supervision. Costs and counsel fees of $12,500 will be paid by the school board. In his suit against the school ifficials on behalf of his minor child, 15 year old Maggie, McCool was represented by Christine McHugh and E. Elizabeth Sweetser of Princeton, volunteer attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey. The ACLU maintained that the school, by reducing Maggie's grades because of her adherence to her religious and moral beliefs and by refusing to provide her with alternative means of study, violated her right to freedom of religion under the First Amendment and the New Jersey Constitution and her right to a "thorough and efficient education" under New Jersey law and discriminated against her under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Christine McHugh, Esq. E. Elizabeth Sweetser, Esq. Pellettieri, Rabstein & Altman (609) 520-0900 Elizabeth J. Miller, Esq. ACLU-NJ (201) 642-2086

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