Teacher-led prayer stopped at elementary school banquet (August 12, 2014)

After a complaint by FFRF, Sandy Run K-8 School staff in Swansea S.C., will no longer lead prayer at academic banquets. FFRF learned that a school staff member led both students and staff in a Christian prayer at a June 2 banquet.

FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott sent a letter to the district on July 22, to explain why public school teachers and staff may not lead or direct prayer. After citing 50 years of Supreme Court decisions barring religious devotions in public schools, Elliott added:

“Teachers and staff have access to a captive audience of students due to their positions in public education. Therefore, the District has a duty to regulate religious proselytizing in the classroom and at school functions.”

On Aug. 12, the Calhoun County Public Schools Superintendent Steve Wilson responded with a strongly-worded assurances: “I have reminded staff on numerous occasions of the law and to not engage in any activity that could be considered out of bounds as it pertains to Freedom of Religion. After receiving your letter, I immediately placed the subject on the very next District Principals’ Meeting agenda. . . and directed any and all to refrain from such practices.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation