FFRF has reminded a Louisiana school district of its legal obligation to refrain from promoting religion.
A concerned Ouachita Parish School System member contacted FFRF to report that East Ouachita Middle School in Monroe, La., hosted a “See You at the Pole” event — a Christian-oriented prayer rally organized each year around a bible verse — last fall.
The event included adults playing live music, prayer by an adult and participation by school faculty — including the principal. Additionally, FFRF was informed that a pastor from an area church that has “adopted” East Ouachita Middle School was permitted to deliver a Christian prayer last August at a ribbon cutting ceremony for the school.
FFRF Associate Counsel Sam Grover wrote to Superintendent Don Coker on Oct. 26, asking that district staff cease scheduling and advertising religious events, or allowing outside adults to participate in religious events on campus with students. Grover also pointed out that no school-sponsored event can include clergy-led prayer.
The district responded on Feb. 7, notifying FFRF that the East Ouachita Middle School principal was reminded that school employees may not participate in student events such as “See You at the Pole.”
The school administrative staff has also been cautioned against promoting personal religious beliefs to students.