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School Board: High School must remove Bible verse from tribute bench

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A Bible verse on a memorial bench honoring a Charlotte County teen who passed away last year now has to be taken off.

Colton Osborne died tragically last year during an ATV accident and the community came together to honor his memory with a bench at Randolph Henry High School, according to our sister station WSET.

Osborne is remembered for his love of baseball, that's why the bench was placed next to the baseball field and reads "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me - Philippians 4:13."

The Charlotte County School Board said the Bible verse is not legally compliant.

"The community of Charlotte County is a very sweet and loving community and they do frequently request to give memorials," said Nancy Leonard, the school superintendent.

That's why the school system worked with their attorney to come up with a policy on how to handle them.

"During that work, we found that the memorial bench that we currently have is not legally compliant because of the establishment clause because of the Bible verse," Leonard continued.

Leonard said it was a community idea and effort to place the bench on school property, and they installed it last spring when the school held a memorial service during a baseball game and dedicated the bench in Osborne's memory.

They've had no complaints about the Bible verse, but Leonard says they need to follow the law.

"We have to remove the bench, or cover the scripture or change that verse to something else that may represent the child," she said.

The school system said it's working with the family to come up with something different, like a different quote, wording, or something else that was special to Colton to replace the Bible verse.

The school system will also be responsible to pay for the changes.

They've had no complaints about the Bible verse, but Leonard says they need to follow the law.

"We have to remove the bench, or cover the scripture or change that verse to something else that may represent the child," she said.

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