Ohio school board nixes opening prayer (May 12, 2023)

FFRF’s letter of complaint has been heard by the Ohio-based Norwalk City Schools, leading to the Board of Education ending the practice of opening meetings with a prayer.

A community member reported to FFRF that the board opened the March 14 meeting, held at Norwalk High School, with a prayer prior to reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The complainant reported that this was the first instance of prayer being included in the meeting, and as such, it made them feel very uncomfortable.

“The fact that the prayers are not on the meeting minutes or agenda do not make prayer at a public BOE meeting constitutional. Students and parents have the right — and often have reason — to participate in school board meetings,” FFRF Legal Fellow Sammi Lawrence wrote to Board President Lisa Wick.

In response, Wick made comments to the media indicating that the letter was received and the message was heard. “It was not the intention for us to make anyone feel uncomfortable.” Wick has confirmed that they will no longer open meetings with prayer.

Freedom From Religion Foundation