Supt acknowledges Supreme Court Rulings, but...
Admits Albany Elementary has voluntary morning prayer already
This from the Clinton County News:
Clinton County Board of Education dealt with a request for putting Biblical teaching back in the classroom...at its regular monthly meeting Monday evening...
Barbara Guthrie and other representatives with her then addressed the board members, requesting at first that the Bible be taught in school, as part of required history. “Students don’t know exactly how our nation came about,” Guthrie said, adding that despite what some government officials say, she believes the United States is still a Christian nation.
She first presented hand-outs to the board members, Supt. McFall and Board Attorney Lindsey Bell, apparently indicating that Kentucky law allowed Biblical type teaching.
In her address to the board, Guthrie said that school children are not being taught morals and again asked “why can’t we put the Bible back in school?”
The group also presented the board a petition that was gathered recently containing some 1,671 names of individuals who had agreed that the Bible should be taught in the local schools.
Guthrie also questioned who determined which text books were used by students in the school district.
Supt. McFall briefly explained the process, noting the state forwarded a list of text books available per curriculums and a committee of local educators decided which texts to use in each subject area. For example, if math text books were needed, the committee would consist largely of math teachers.As a general rule, organized prayer in the public school setting, whether in the classroom or at a school-sponsored event, is unconstitutional. The only type of prayer that is constitutionally permissible is private, voluntary student prayer that does not interfere with the school's educational mission. Students have the right to engage in voluntary individual prayer that is not coercive and does not substantially disrupt the school's educational mission and activities.
Guthrie suggested, other than teaching Biblical courses, that there should also be morals class taught for girls and boys at each school; noted she was in favor of the paddle saying teachers should be able to have control of their classrooms and a dress code not only for students but faculty as well.
Supt. McFall noted that he and CCHS Principal Sheldon Harlan had already been discussing a possible elective class to incorporate a Biblical type course. Also, board members noted that there were organizations in the schools such as the 180 Club, FCA and others available, as well as Albany Elementary having voluntary morning prayer.
The superintendent, in noting an elective course may be possible, also said that faculty and administrators encouraged students to be respectful and that there was a dress code in place. He also noted that students who wish to could bring Bibles to school.
Board member Kevin Marcum said he thinks most kids in the county are brought up with morals and knows the school district faculty well enough to know they try to instill values into students.
Board member Junior Cecil added that we are living in a ‘liberal’ society, but added the schools only have students about seven hours out of the day during the school months. He also said the district has tried to put things into place to teach morals and character.
When Guthrie questioned the board about a time table as to when something official may be done, Supt. McFall said that changes have occurred over generations and “we’re not going to be able to correct them overnight.” He also noted that the issue of teaching the Bible and religion in general, has been in the Supreme Court extensively, adding school districts have to adhere from Frankfort and Washington, D.C...
For example, all students have the right to say a blessing before eating a meal. However, school officials must not promote or encourage a student's personal prayer. Students may engage with other students but personal religious activity may not interfere with the rights or well-being of other students.
It is critical for schools to ensure that the religious activity is truly student-initiated, and that no school employee supervises or participates in the activity. Any school promotion or endorsement of a student's private religious activity is unconstitutional which makes the organized voluntary prayer sessions at the elementary school dubious.
Regarding the Free Exercise Clause, the courts have consistently stated that anyone is allowed to pray in US schools so long as it is not promoted or facilitated by the school and it does not disrupt others from doing their work. I wonder how it is handled at Albany.