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Mandatory attendance of prayer nixed in Texas (August 2023)

A concerned Tomball ISD parent reported that on Nov. 11, 2022, Grand Lakes Junior High School in Texas held a mandatory Veterans Day assembly that included prayer. The assembly took place in the school gymnasium during the school day, and students were not allowed to opt out of attending the assembly or the portion that included prayer. FFRF was additionally informed that the school board vice president delivered a prayer at the district’s May 2023 A+ Award Ceremony for outstanding students.

“These multiple incidents are especially concerning as they suggest the District has a custom and practice of facilitating pre-planned prayers at its official events,” FFRF Legal Fellow Sammi Lawrence wrote to Superintendent Martha Salazar-Zamora.

In response, FFRF received a letter from TISD legal representative Holly A. Sherman, writing, “The district is aware of the parent’s concerns regarding these specific events. The district ensures that it will comply with applicable federal and state law and any applicable TISD board policies regarding prayer at school-sponsored events in the future.”