The Monroe County Schools district in Tennessee has been brought back into constitutional line after FFRF worked with legal counsel for the district.
In May 2023, the Sweetwater High School graduation ceremony included a student-led Christian invocation that began with “Let’s pray,” and made several references to “Lord,” “God” and “Jesus Christ.” Additionally, several MCS high schools promoted senior baccalaureate ceremonies alongside other events for graduating high school seniors.
FFRF Anne Nicol Gaylor Legal Fellow Sammi Lawrence wrote to Director of Schools Kristi Windsor, stating that “baccalaureate ceremonies are religious services with prayer and worship. Schools may not encourage attendance at or otherwise facilitate baccalaureate ceremonies.”
Chris McCarty, legal representative for the school, called Lawrence and discussed the violations in detail. McCarty assured FFRF that there will be no issues with prayers at graduation going forward, promising to address the matter with the superintendent and the school board. He also promised to bring up the baccalaureates issue, as well.