FFRF originally contacted Middletown City Schools in Ohio last spring about high school football coach Chris Wells leading students in prayer and inviting them to his church. The district assured FFRF that administrators had met with Wells and told him that his actions crossed the constitutional line.
But in September, FFRF received a report from a new complainant that Wells was again leading prayers before and after every game. Wells allegedly told players after a Sept. 19 losing game that they needed to rededicate themselves to God and ordered them to take a knee and pray. When one player refused, the coach allegedly threw him off the team.
“Coach Wells is purposefully and willfully ignoring the law and the district’s explicit directive,” wrote Senior Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert in a second letter of complaint.
An attorney for the district responded in November, saying administrators reiterated to Wells that he could not “involve religion in any way in either his coaching or in his involvement with students. The athletic director was directed to monitor the situation closely.
“Should you receive any more complaints, please let me know, so that the district can investigate and take further action,” the attorney’s response said.