Invocations to be nonsectarian (February 26, 2016)

The Plano Independent School District Board of Trustees has dropped Christian invocations from its meetings in favor of “nonsectarian inspirational messages” after hearing from FFRF.

FFRF Staff Attorney Sam Grover first wrote on Dec. 7, 2015, informing the board, “It is beyond the scope of a public school board to schedule or conduct prayer as part of its meetings.”

When an attorney for the school district replied that the district did not intend to change its practices, Grover sent a rebuttal letter on Jan. 22. He pointed out that several courts have held that prayers at school board meetings differ from the legislative prayers that the U.S. Supreme Court has approved of, and that even in the legislative context, legislators themselves are not permitted to lead the prayers as the trustees were doing here.

In a Feb. 26 response, the Plano Board of Trustees attorney maintained his disagreement, but wrote, “Notwithstanding our disagreement, going forward the Plano ISD School Board intends on opening its meetings with nonsectarian inspirational messages delivered by board members.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation