FFRF reminds Tenn. principal of law (July 10, 2015)

The principal of Little Milligan Elementary School in Butler, Tenn., has been reprimanded by the Carter County School District for frequently leading students in prayer and reportedly asking them each Monday if they had been to church. FFRF was contacted by a concerned parent.

The principal, J.R. Campbell, also reportedly recruited several students to accompany him during the school day to a Baptist church to set up chairs for a church service. While he drove to and from the church, the students walked, crossing Highway 321 twice without supervision.

“The district must take action to ensure that its educators, principals and teachers alike, are not recruiting students to participate in church-related activities, or to encourage student involvement in religious activities of any kind,” Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert said in a June 9 letter.

John Banks, district general counsel, replied July 10 to say that Ward had investigated the allegations and met with Campbell. Banks provided a copy of Ward’s letter, which was signed by Campbell and placed in his personnel file.

While praising Campbell’s “long, meritorious and exemplary service,” Ward said his investigation “leads me to believe there is some substance to the factual statements” in FFRF’s letter and that he will continue to monitor the situation. “Having discussed this at much length with you, I understand that you will take all necessary steps to prevent a violation of Board policy or First Amendment Rights of students, faculty, or staff in the future.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation