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FFRF gets Texas district to stick to Constitution (April 2024)

FFRF brought the Hardin Independent School District back in line with the Constitution after an inherently religious event was promoted through social media.

A parent reported that the district promoted the religious event, See You At the Pole, on the district’s official social media and allowed adults to organize and participate in the event. SYATP is a “global day of student prayer,” wherein students are encouraged to meet at their school’s flagpole and pray before school. It is an explicitly Christian event and organization. On Sept. 27, 2023, a post from the official Hardin ISD Facebook page stated:

“We love seeing students participating in SYATP! What a beautiful morning! Thank you to our volunteers organizing these events!”

FFRF Legal Fellow Sammi Lawrence wrote to the district. “It is well settled that public schools may not allow employees or outside adults to lead, direct, or encourage students to engage in prayer.”

Legal representative for the district Melody Carrier reached out to FFRF, responding that the situation has been resolved. “The district has conferenced with the independent contractor who was involved in the incident,” Carrier wrote. “The district will ensure that proper training on the separation of church and immediately addressed with all substitutes and the district will continue to stress with all employees the duties and responsibilities under the law.”