Coach won’t say prayer at awards dinner (April 12, 2022)

A concerned parent in the Victor Valley Union High School District in California contacted FFRF to report that the head coach of the Silverado High School football team opened its awards dinner with a Christian prayer. The event was held at the school to honor members of the football team, and the prayer was delivered “in Jesus’ name.”

FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line sent a letter to Ron Williams, superintendent of Victor Valley Union High School District, reminding him that it is illegal for athletic coaches to lead their teams in prayer.

“Coach Jones’ conduct at this event was unconstitutional because he endorsed and promoted his religion while acting in his official capacity as a school district employee,” Line insisted. “Certainly, he represents the school and the team when he acts in his official role as head coach of the Silverado High School football team. Therefore, he cannot lead prayer at school events, lead his team in prayer, or advocate for students to lead team prayer either.”

Assistant Superintendent Ramiro Rubalcaba responded to FFRF’s letter assuring that it was a mistake and would not happen again. “Having educated the coach concerning this issue, he has agreed that, moving forward, he will ensure that neither he nor any members of his staff will conduct prayer during any school activities or even engage in religiously related discussions at work so as to avoid any perceived endorsement of religious issues.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation