Image: Textbook sticker
NBC News
The Cobb County Board of Education required these stickers to be pasted into biology textbooks, saying that evolution "is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. The material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered."
updated 1/18/2005 4:51:23 PM ET 2005-01-18T21:51:23

A school board is planning to challenge a federal judge's order to remove stickers in science textbooks that call evolution "a theory, not a fact."

In a 5-2 vote, the Cobb County school board decided to appeal last week's ruling. Board members said U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper's order to remove the stickers immediately "amounts to unnecessary judicial intrusion into local control of schools," according to a statement.

Monday's decision came after board members met with lawyers for three hours in a closed session.

"We have to make our best judgment based on the facts," said Curt Johnston, a member who was chairman when the board adopted the disclaimers in 2002.

The Georgia case is one of several battles waged in recent years throughout the nation over what role evolution should play in science books.

The school district just north of Atlanta approved the stickers after more than 2,000 parents complained the textbooks presented evolution as fact, without mentioning rival ideas about the beginnings of life.

During four days of testimony in federal court last November, the school system defended the warning stickers as a show of tolerance, not religious activism. Its attorneys argued the board had made a good-faith effort to address questions that inevitably arise during the teaching of evolution.

Johnston said the board believes the judge erred when ruling the disclaimers are an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.

The decision to appeal surprised Jeffrey Selman, who led parents in a lawsuit to remove the stickers.

"They're ludicrous," Selman said of the school board. "They're ignoring the ruling."

The disclaimers read: "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."

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