A San Antonio high school held a prayer-free 2013 graduation, and promised to keep prayer out of future graduation ceremonies as well, in response to a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Theodore Roosevelt High School, which is part of the North East Independent School District, included an invocation and benediction given by the “senior class chaplain” in their 2012 graduation ceremony. FFRF Staff Attorney Stephanie Schmitt contacted the District superintendent, Dr. Brian Gottardy, in a July 26, 2012 letter requesting future ceremonies be free of illegal prayer to protect students’ constitutional rights.
Schmitt criticized policies the state of Texas had passed, including the “Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act,” which attempts to circumvent and flout the two Supreme Court precedents that decided school-sponsored prayer violates the Constitution.
The District’s legal counsel responded on March 25, 2013, that District schools, including Roosevelt High School, would not schedule invocations or benedictions at their 2013 graduations ceremonies. The District also instructed school principals not to include school-sponsored prayer in all future graduation ceremonies.