FFRF halts Ohio high school prayers

Minford Local School District (Minford, Ohio) has ended the scheduling of prayers at high school assemblies and graduations after FFRF notified the superintendent of the illegal practices. Prayer was scheduled and delivered by a student during the February 2011 National Honor Society (NHS) assembly at Minford High School, and prayer had been scheduled for high school graduations in previous years. The assembly prayer had been approved by the NHS advisor and the principal. Rebecca Markert, FFRF senior staff attorney, wrote in her Feb. 25, 2011 letter: “Even if student-initated, school officials may not invite a student, teacher, faculty member or clergy to give any type of prayer, invocation or benediction at a public high school-sponsored event. . . . The Supreme Court has settled this matter — high school assemblies and graduations must be secular to protect the freedom of conscience of all students.”

An attorney for the school district responded April 6, 2011: “With respect to the assembly held to induct students into the National Honors Society, please be advised that the high school principal and NHS advisor have been advised that there should be no scheduled prayer in the future, in accordance with existing Board policy. “With respect to the graduation, we have been informed that there was no scheduled prayer at the District graduation ceremony in 2010, nor is the Board aware that a prayer is scheduled as part of the program for this year’s graduation ceremony.” — Bonnie Gutsch

Freedom From Religion Foundation