Illegal prayer (finally) ended at high school graduation (May 28, 2014)

Alexander High School in Alexander N.Y., will no longer conduct illegal prayer during graduation ceremonies.

FFRF Senior Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert sent a letter on June 24, 2013, about an invocation listed as part of a recent graduation ceremony’s scheduled events.

“The Supreme Court has settled this matter — high school graduations must be secular to protect the freedom of conscience of all students,” Markert informed the district. “A prayer taking place at a “regularly scheduled school-sponsored function” would lead an objective observer to perceive it as state endorsement of religion.”

After a series of follow-up letters received no response, the District sent an email on Jan. 31: “We do not believe it was illegal. It was student initiated and student led.”

Markert informed on April 8 that it is indeed unconstitutional and illegal, even if student initiated and led, citing the Supreme Court’s Santa Fe v. Doe ruling on precisely such violations.

On May 28, the District finally sent a letter notifying FFRF that, “The graduation planning committee for the class of 2014 has decided not to included an invocation in their graduation program.”

In August, Markert received additional confirmation that the School Board “made the decision not to included an invocation in the graduation ceremony.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation