Poplarville School District in Poplarville, Miss., will no longer use religious rhetoric in its student handbooks. FFRF received a complaint that the “Strategic Plan” section of the 2013-14 District student handbook states that one of the District’s beliefs is “[a] relationship with God is critical to a meaningful life.” FFRF was also informed that not only is this handbook given to every student, but that this statement of belief has appeared in the handbook for many years.
FFRF Staff Attorney Elizabeth Cavell sent a letter to the school’s superintendent on Feb. 13 explaining why public school districts may not display religious messages or iconography:
“The value statement in the student handbook sends the message that the District not only prefers religion over nonreligion, but the Christian god over all deities. . . This sort of entanglement between religion and public education excludes non-Christian and nonreligious students.”
On May 26 the District responded to Cavell’s letter informing FFRF: “At its meeting on March 10, 2014 the Board of Trustees voted to remove the above-referenced language from the strategic plan and handbook beginning with the upcoming school-year.”