Edgewood HS drops federal lawsuit against City of Madison over athletic field upgrades

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV)-- Edgewood High School has dropped a federal lawsuit against the City of Madison citing religious discrimination, in an attempt to come to an agreement with the city over the school's controversial athletic field.

Edgewood High School President Mike Elliott said in a release Monday that the school decided to drop the lawsuit in a "good faith effort to try and resolve the issue of lighting on its on-campus athletic field without further litigation."

This comes after the Madison Common Council voted to reject the school's master plan, a plan that put certain restrictions on the school's ability to make upgrades to its athletic field, on Madison's west side.

Those upgrades include more lights, louder speakers and the possibility of night games - upgrades some members of the nearby neighborhood say would be disruptive.

However, before the vote, some on the Council sided with those neighbors and refused to strike down that master plan. Edgewood High School then filed the lawsuit in federal court, arguing the City of Madison was treating its school differently than public schools because it is a Catholic school.

Public schools don't have regulatory master plans like Edgewood did.

At a press conference Tuesday, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said that the city is "pleased" the lawsuit has ended.

"We treat them just like we treat anyone else in our land use process. I think there are other questions about the relationship between the Edgewood institutions and their neighbors, which is really not something that the city is involved in, that's a relationship that they're going to have to work on between those parties," Mayor Rhodes-Conway said.

President Elliott said he believes the school and the city are on good footing moving forward.

"Edgewood appreciates the cooperation the City has provided over the last several months to repeal Edgewood's master plan and the City’s acknowledgement that Edgewood should be on equal footing with the City's other public high schools regarding allowed uses at its facilities," according to Elliott .

GOING FORWARD

Elliot said that the school is now beginning the application process for one of the controversial updates to the athletic field - building lights.

Elliot expects to have those lights approved by the city before the 2020-2021 school season.

The school still needs approval from the city, regardless of the master plan, because the Common Council passed an ordinance in 2019 requiring schools to get the council's approval to add lights.

"While it is Edgewood’s sincere hope to not have to restart the litigation in the future, that option remains available to us as a last resort, if necessary," according to Elliott.

Federal court documents confirm on Tuesday that the school has dropped the lawsuit.