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Lauryn Seering

Lauryn Seering

FFRF learned that Tropic Isles Elementary School, North Fort Myers, Fla., planned a fifth-grade field trip to a church which was hosting a walk-through play entitled "Drug House Odyssey."

Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel wrote the school district on Feb. 12 informing them that the field trip was unconstitutional: "Taking public school students to a church, a place covered with religious iconography, is an endorsement of that church's religion."

Lee County Schools Superintendent Nancy Graham responded Feb. 16, stating that she shared FFRF's concern that the district's participation "not present any impression that the School District is attempting to indoctrinate students into a religious belief."

The district chose to postpone the event and consider an alternative site, she said.

Bennett Elementary School in McKinney, Texas, removed hand sanitizer bottles that displayed the Lord's Prayer and the logo of a church. "Religion is a divisive force in public schools," wrote Staff Attorney Sam Grover. "Though the school may accept donations from religious entities such as churches, the school still must comply with the Establishment Clause in its use of those items."

FFRF's complainant reported on Feb. 18 that the prayers had been removed and the church logos replaced with school logos.

Eastern Local School District, Reedsville, Ohio, removed two religious posts after a car accident claimed the life of a former Eastern High School student. The posts called for "prayer warriors" to "lift all of [those involved in the accident] up in prayer."

Senior Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert wrote Superintendent Michele Filon a letter on Feb. 12. "We are sensitive to the fact that sharing such tragic news can be a difficult and emotional task. Expressing condolences over this situation was correct, but we wish to remind the District that it must ensure that it remains neutral on matters of religion." FFRF received word Feb. 19 that the posts had been removed.

Quehanna Boot Camp, an adult correctional facility in Karthaus, Pa., will not include prayers in future graduation ceremonies. Staff Attorney Sam Grover wrote the camp Feb. 3 to object to the pastor-led prayers.

The Department of Corrections responded Feb. 13, writing that the invocation and benediction portions of the ceremony would be removed.

Haskins Learning Center, a K-8 public school in Pratt, Kan., is presenting in-service training to teachers about religious proselytizing after FFRF again objected to the school's practices.

Just six weeks earlier, the school had agreed to stop prayer at school events. But the day after the first response, FFRF received a report that teachers had distributed gifts to students with attached tags quoting the biblical John 3:16.

An attorney for the school told Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel on Feb. 9 that he had in-services scheduled with instructional and administrative staff.

Ravenswood Middle School in Ripley, W.Va., has taken down crosses that were previously displayed on school property.

Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott wrote Jackson County Schools on Jan. 20 after learning that multiple crosses were placed in a garden near an entrance to the school. One included the word "FAITH" and two verses from the New Testament.

"We are sensitive to the possibility that the crosses and angels are meant as a memorial. However, it is the school's constitutional obligation to find a religiously neutral means of expressing remembrance in a memorial display," wrote Elliott.

The district responded Feb. 6 to say that the crosses had been removed.

Unified School District 219 in Kansas has stopped a Minneola Elementary School teacher from distributing bibles to students. In a letter sent Jan. 30, Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel informed the district, "When a school distributes religious literature to its students, it entangles itself with that religious message."

Superintendent Mark Walker responded Feb. 6: "The district has taken prompt action to visit with the teacher and inform the entire staff that allowing the Gideons to distribute Bibles on school property is not allowed and should not happen again."

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

FFRF has received a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator

 

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