The attorney for Owasso Public Schools, Owasso, Okla., told the Freedom From Religion Foundation today (May 1) that no district employee will be allowed in the future to pray or otherwise engage in religious activities with students.
FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel sent a letter of complaint April 28 to Superintendent Clark Ogilvie on behalf of a local citizen, who alleged that Owasso High School baseball coach Larry Turner and assistant coaches were leading the team in pregame prayer.
Seidel cited specific cases in which federal courts have struck down prayer in public schools, including pregame prayer, because it constitutes government endorsement of religion, a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. "More notably, federal courts have specifically held public school coaches’ participation in their team’s prayer circles unconstitutional," Seidel wrote.
"Owasso Public Schools must take immediate action to ensure that coaches do not lead, organize, encourage, or participate in prayers with their teams. The coaches apparent organizing and obvious participation in a team prayer constitutes an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion."
School Attorney J. Douglas Mann responded May 1 by letter: "This is to advise you that I have been directed by Superintendent Ogilvie to advise you that the Owasso School District will not allow any District employees to participate with any District students in any prayer or other religious activities in connection with any school-sponsored events."
Superintendent Ogilvie also responded promptly and positively to a 2011 FFRF complaint about a school bus driver displaying a Christian cross in the bus. The school told FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott three days after getting the complaint that the cross wouldn't be displayed again.