FFRF and Puerto Rico Secular Humanists sue over forced school prayer

Puerto Rico Complaint

The Freedom from Religion Foundation and Humanistas Seculares de Puerto Rico (HUSE) filed a lawsuit on February 27, 2020 against Puerto Rico’s Education Secretary and the principal at Luis M. Santiago School. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a Humanist parent and mother of the two children that attend the school.

The lawsuit challenges an hour-long Christian prayer practice led by teachers at the school every other Monday that students are required to attend. The complaint explains that because the prayers violate her beliefs as a secular humanist and her desire to raise her children without religion, the mother has been keeping her children home during that time. The children have been threatened with tardy marks for arriving late to class in order to avoid the prayers.

The plaintiffs seek to end this practice and prevent any future school-led prayers. Because the prayer practice violates well-established constitutional law, the plaintiffs are hopeful that the lawsuit can be resolved quickly, without the need for a protracted legal battle. To that end, the parties have undertaken mediation intended to resolve the case. Due to coronavirus, Puerto Rico public schools are temporarily closed, which may delay resolution.

FFRF Attorneys Samuel Grover and Madeline Ziegler are working with local counsel Carlos A. Cintron Garcia to represent the three Doe plaintiffs and Humanistas Seculares De Puerto Rico. The case number is: 3:20-cv-01111 and is assigned to Judge Gustavo A. Gelpi.

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