FFRF backs Georgia family in suit over elementary school prayer (October 5, 2015)

On Feb. 9, 2015, FFRF filed a federal lawsuit in the Southern District of Georgia, alleging discrimination against two anonymous Doe children by their elementary school teachers. The complaint against Emanuel County Schools charges that teachers inflicted religious prayers on their captive student audiences each day before lunch. Plaintiffs were the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the anonymous Doe family.

The complaint alleged that when the parents of kindergartener Jamie Doe and first grader Jesse Doe complained about the prayers at Swainsboro Primary School, teachers responded by instructing the Doe children to wait in the hallway while the rest of their classes prayed. The Doe parents ultimately removed Jamie from school due to persistent complaints of feeling uncomfortable in class.

The complaint further alleged that Jesse was pressured to pray by multiple teachers in the school. A teacher held Jesse back from recess to explain her personal Christian beliefs and said that Jesse’s mother was a bad person for not believing in God.

In September, 2015, the parties reached a confidential settlement agreement. The Doe family received financial compensation and the school district’s faculty received educational training on their obligations not to promote religious beliefs in their classrooms. The parties therefore agreed to a stipulation of dismissal.

FFRF was represented by W.R. Nichols, of Atlanta, with FFRF Staff Attorneys Samuel T. Grover and Andrew L. Seidel serving as co-counsel. FFRF v. Emanuel County School System, Case No. CV615-013, is in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, Statesboro Division.

Freedom From Religion Foundation