Marathon School District in Marathon, Wis., has changed its policy regarding school assemblies after receiving a letter of objection from FFRF.
On Nov. 11, 2011, American Legion Post 469 held a Veterans Day ceremony at Marathon Area Elementary School that included an invocation and closing prayer. These prayers were sectarian and were offered “in Jesus’ name.” The event occurred during the school day, and students were expected to attend.
After receiving a complaint from a concerned parent, FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott wrote District Administrator Richard Parks, informing him that, “While it is laudable for schools in your District to organize, sponsor and host a Veterans Day assembly, it is unconstitutional to allow Christian or other religious messages to be part of school-sponsored activities such as student assemblies.”
Elliott reminded the District Administrator that the religious nature of the event “Defeated the purpose of schools by misleading instead of educating children. Many ‘atheists in foxholes’ have served our country with distinction. Veterans of whatever religion or no religion should be equally honored.”
District Administrator Parks responded on Nov. 17, informing FFRF that the issue has prompted a change in District policy: “I have already contacted our school district principals to inform them that they will need to review all programs provided by outside groups to assure that we do not have a situation similar to this occur in the future when student attendance is expected.”