The American Civil Liberties Union and another group are asking a federal judge to make a southern Ohio middle school take down its portrait of Jesus.
The ACLU of Ohio and the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation contend the large portrait hanging in a public school violates constitutional requirement for separation of church and state, and promotes a single religion.
Their lawsuit was filed Thursday in U.S. district court following complaints by both groups to Jackson City Schools.
Jackson Schools Superintendent Phil Howard issued a statement on Thursday:
"We are shocked and surprised to hear about this lawsuit. FFRF had asked us to do an investigation, which we started almost immediately. The investigation is almost complete and our attorneys are going to make a report and recommendations at our next board of education meeting on an appropriate course of action. We have not seen nor been served the lawsuit. "
School officials had said earlier that the portrait, at the Jackson Middle School building since 1947, has historical importance and that they planned to leave it in place.