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Kentucky school district complies with law requiring 'In God We Trust' display by hanging $1 bills

Posted at 9:16 AM, Aug 15, 2019

LEXINGTON, Ky. — When students in Fayette County, Kentucky returned to school this week, they found enlarged dollar bills framed hanging in each building.

According to emails, the photos are the district's way of complying with a new state law that requires schools to display the national motto, "In God We Trust," in a prominent place.

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin signed House Bill 46 into law in March. The bill requires "each public elementary and secondary school to display the national motto of the United States, "In God We Trust," in a prominent location in the school" beginning in the 2019-2020 school year.

According to emails, Fayette County Public Schools (FCPS) Chief Operating Officer Myron Thompson, the district's general counsel recommended displaying the back of a dollar bill in office areas as a way of complying with the law.

The national motto appears about the "ONE" on the back of the dollar note.

The framed displays show the dollar bill enlarged to 175 percent of a normal dollar.

Thompson sent the email to district principals in late July. It said the schools' "General Counsel has recommended we comply with this requirement by displaying a copy of a one dollar bill in your front office areas." It went on to say maintenance crews would be visiting the schools to install the photos, which is of the back of a $1 bill that has been enlarged 175 percent.

"Like every school district in the Commonwealth, Fayette County Public Schools has complied with the requirements of the new law to display the national motto in our schools. All schools in our district have been provided a framed version of an enlarged copy of a one dollar bill to display in a prominent location," Fayette County School Superintendent Manny Caulk said in a statement Wednesday.

The state lawmaker that introduced the legislation, Rep. Brandon Reed (R-Hdogenville), accused the district of playing "political games."

"It is extremely disappointing to see Fayette County Public Schools spend time searching for silly loopholes to a law that passed with broad support from both Democrats and Republicans and received over 70 votes in the House of Representatives," Reed said in a statement. "....Many districts across the state have chosen the avenue of creative student artwork, which my bill expressly allowed for and would come at little to no cost to our schools. ... I hope to see FCPS reconsider their unfortunate decision."

Bevin weighed in on the issue on Thursday, and echoed Reed's statements.

"Here's the thing, that's meant to be cute or clever," Bevin said. "What are we hoping to accomplish by trying to circumvent the intention of a law?"

Caulk issued a response to Reed in a statement of his own.

"..I am disappointed to hear Fayette County's compliance with the state law requiring the display of our nation's motto described as a loophole," Caulk said. Our actions are not part of a political game as Rep. Reed suggested. ... How can that display, used daily in commerce, be acceptable and ours considered unfortunate and silly?"

This story was originally published by David Nichols on WLEX in Lexington, Kentucky.