Prayer Does Not Persist at School Athletic Event (June 27, 2019)

A California school district has taken steps to ensure scheduled prayer does not persist at school athletic events following intervention from FFRF.

A concerned San Ramon Valley Unified School District parent reported that the two most recent California High men’s lacrosse banquets opened with a prayer led by a parent. The school’s principal and athletic director were reportedly first notified about this issue via email after the spring 2018 men’s lacrosse banquet, and the current athletic director indicated that the issue would be addressed prior to this year’s banquet. Despite this assurance, a prayer was again led by a parent at the 2019 banquet, and the banquet program specifically listed a “blessing” as part of the event.

FFRF Associate Counsel Liz Cavell wrote to Superintendent Rick Schmitt, alerting him to the unconstitutionality of such school-sponsored prayer.

Schmitt responded to FFRF’s letter with a detailed account of the actions the district has taken to keep this prayer from continuing in the future, including explaining the legal guidelines surrounding school prayer to the athletic directors and coaches in the district.

“Please rest assured we have taken steps to ensure this does not take place again, not only at California High School, but across the district,” Schmitt wrote.

Freedom From Religion Foundation