Employee convocations end at Texas school (September 25, 2016)

An employee at a public school district in Brazoria County, Texas, alerted FFRF about an opening prayer given at an employee general session. At a start-of-the-year meeting, employees were directed to rise and pray in a convocation led by a staff member.

In a letter sent Aug. 5, Staff Attorney Sam Grover wrote to Brazosport Independent School District Superintendent Danny Massey to ensure prayer would not be scheduled or endorsed at future school district events. After receiving no response, FFRF was informed that during a mandatory Brazosport ISD staff meeting on Aug. 15, a religious leader from a Christian group was introduced to lead a “voluntary” prayer.

In a second letter to Massey, Grover addressed the changes the school district had made in its opening prayer and maintained that the practice was still unconstitutional.

Grover also informed Massey that declaring the prayer “voluntary” did not make it so. Employees were still required to be in attendance, and asking non-Christian employees to spotlight their beliefs in an effort to avoid a Christian exercise is inappropriate, Grover wrote.

A legal firm representing the school district responded on Sept. 25 informing FFRF that Massey had been spoken to about the school district’s legal obligations regarding the employee convocation and that no further issues were anticipated.

Freedom From Religion Foundation