Jan 26, 2006 — Attorneys representing 11 parents who successfully sued the Dover Area School District over its policy on intelligent design in science class have until Feb. 15 to file a claim for damages and legal costs.

U.S. Judge John E. Jones III signed the order Tuesday. In December, Jones ruled intelligent design was essentially religion disguised as science and that the former school board had religious intent when it voted to require students to hear about the concept.

Jones said the plaintiffs' attorneys could seek fees and costs from the defense, which the plaintiffs had requested in their original lawsuit.

The district has until March 10 to respond to the claims, according to Jones' order.

Eric Rothschild, the plaintiffs' lead attorney, said lawyers hope to continue discussions about the final tally and reach an agreement with the school district before the deadline.

"We are hoping to make this as nonadversarial as possible," Rothschild said.

District solicitor Steve Russell of Stock and Leader said attorneys on both sides agreed on the February date. Russell said he's been talking to the plaintiffs' attorneys about the fees but has not received an amount yet.

Russell is representing the district instead of the Thomas More Law Center since the community replaced eight of the nine board members in the November election.

Seven of those members voted against appealing the judge's decision. One seat was open at the time because a revote had been ordered after a voting machine malfunction.

Bernadette Reinking, board president, said officials haven't heard any information about fees yet. Any money paid by the district, including for a lawsuit, would have to be approved by a vote from board members, Reinking and Russell said.

Russell said he couldn't answer when the board would have something to vote on. He said it seems to be on schedule to be determined in the next two months, but nothing was certain.

"I really honestly don't know," he said.

Reach Michelle Starr at 771-2045 or mstarr@ydr.com and Lauri Lebo at 771-2092 orllebo@ydr.com.