Officials in the Santa Rosa County, Fla., School District have agreed to gut an ACLU-inspired consent decree they imposed on students and faculty several years ago and pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to settle a legal challenge to their decision that banned ordinary phrases such as “God bless” from their campuses.

Word of the settlement was announced yesterday by the nonprofit Liberty Counsel, which represented faculty and students in the district after the ACLU decree was adopted several years ago.

The restrictions were so draconian that employee Michelle Winkler in 2009 was charged with contempt after her husband, who is not employed by the district, offered a meal prayer at a private event in a neighboring county.

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