Superintendent no longer prays at school events (June/July 2024)

FFRF has gotten the Iroquois School District superintendent in South Dakota to stop using his position to pray before parents and students at official school events.

A concerned parent reported that Superintendent Mike Ruth led the audience in prayer at both the May 23, 2023, Iroquois Sr. High School graduation ceremony and the Sept. 19, 2023, Iroquois Jr./Sr. High School volleyball game. The superintendent reportedly led the prayers while acting in his official capacity, and asked all attendees to participate in the prayers. FFRF’s complainant stated that, while they identify as Christian, they felt it was inappropriate for their child’s superintendent to force his religious beliefs on their child and all other attendees at school-sponsored events.

“By delivering sectarian prayers at school-sponsored events in your official capacity as superintendent, you coerce students and their families to observe and participate in a religious exercise,” FFRF Legal Fellow Sammi Lawrence wrote to the superintendent.

Ruth wrote back to FFRF after the complaint. “Thank you for bringing this to my attention and the feeling of inappropriateness by the citizens of our district,” he wrote. “After discussing this situation with our legal counsel, our district will fully comply with case law moving forward.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation