Mount Zion High School in Carrollton, Ga., will have no further involvement in a baccalaureate ceremony. FFRF Attorney Madeline Ziegler lodged a complaint with the district April 28 about a teacher in charge of planning the baccalaureate, a religious ceremony for graduates to be held at a church. A pastor was slated to speak and seniors were being pulled out of class to learn Christian worship songs to sing at the ceremony. FFRF’s student complainant was told written permission from a parent and “a valid excuse” would be required to skip the ceremony.
Assistant Superintendent Terry Jones replied April 30, noting that the district made changes to ensure it was meeting legal requirements. FFRF’s complainant confirmed that the teacher was no longer in charge of the baccalaureate, practice was no longer held during the school day, and the school made it clear that the ceremony was completely voluntary.
Louis A. Johnson Veterans Administration Medical Center, Clarksburg, W.Va., has taken down a religious sign. A veteran contacted FFRF to report that while at the center to have his photo taken for an ID card, he encountered a sign saying each day was “a gift from God” positioned near the camera.
FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor sent a letter of objection Feb. 10 noting that 23% of military personnel currently choose “no religious preference” when asked.
The center’s director responded April 22 that the sign had been removed.
Dawson County School District in Georgia took corrective measures about a teacher planning prayer at a class Christmas party. Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel wrote an April 8 letter after a complainant reported that a first-grade teacher at Robinson Elementary in Dawsonville told students and parents at the party, “Now let’s all bow our heads for the blessing.” A student then led a prayer.
Attorney Philip Hartley responded April 20, confirming that the incident had occurred as described. He reported that after talking to the teacher, the school was confident it would not happen again.