Posted: 5:36 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013
By Joe Kelley
Pasco County, Fla. —
Decisions of the United States Supreme Court have made it clear that it is not the province of a public school to advance or inhibit religious beliefs or practices. Under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, this remains the inviolate province of the individual and the church of his choice. The rights of any minority, no matter how small, must be protected. No matter how well intended, either official or unofficial sponsorship of religiously-oriented activities by the school may supplant activities which should be the exclusive province of individual religious groups, churches, private organizations, or the family.
District staff members shall not use prayer, religious readings, or religious symbols as a devotional exercise or in an act of worship or celebration. The District shall not act as a disseminating agent for any person or outside agency for any religious or anti-religious document, book, or article. Distribution of such materials on District property by any party shall be in accordance with Policy 7510 and AP 7510A - Use of District Facilities and Policy 9700 - Relations with Special Interest Groups.
Federal law prohibits the Board from adopting any policy or rule respecting or promoting an establishment of religion. Further, Federal and State law prohibit the Board from adopting any policy or rule, or from entering into any agreement, prohibiting any student or staff member from the free, individual, and voluntary exercise or expression of the individual’s religious beliefs. However, such exercise or expression may be limited to lunch periods or other non-instructional time periods when students and staff are free to associate.
Observance of religious holidays through devotional exercises or acts of worship is also prohibited. Acknowledgement of, explanation of, and teaching about religious holidays of various religions are encouraged. Celebration activities involving nonreligious decorations and use of secular works are permitted, but it is the responsibility of all faculty members to ensure that such activities are strictly voluntary, do not place an atmosphere of social compulsion or ostracism on minority groups or individuals, and do not interfere with the regular school program.
The District shall not conduct or sanction a baccalaureate service in conjunction with graduation ceremonies.
The District shall not require students to participate in a baccalaureate service in conjunction with graduation ceremonies.
At the discretion of the Superintendent, a moment of silence may be provided each school day for prayer, reflection, or meditation upon a moral, philosophical, or patriotic theme. However, under no circumstances shall student be compelled to participate.
The flag of the United States shall be raised above each school and/or at other appropriate places during all school sessions, weather permitting. The flag shall be raised before the opening of school and taken down at its close every day.
The Pledge of Allegiance shall be recited at the beginning of each instructional day. However, no student shall be compelled/required to participate in the recitation of the Pledge. Additionally, the Board prohibits the intimidation of any student by other students or staff for the purpose of coercing participation.
Instructional staff members are authorized to lead students in the Pledge of Allegiance at an appropriate time each school day. However, no student shall be compelled/required to participate in the recitation of the Pledge. Additionally, the Board prohibits the intimidation of any student by other students or staff for the purpose of coercing participation. The Superintendent shall develop procedures which require that any staff member who conducts this activity does it at an appropriate time, in an appropriate manner, and with due regard to the need to protect the rights and the privacy of a nonparticipating student.
F.S. 1000.06, 1002.20, 1003.42, 1003.450520 U.S.C. 4071 et seq.Gregoire vs. Centennial School District 907 F.2d 1366, (3rd Circuit, 1990)Lee vs. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649, 120 L. Ed.2d 467 (1992)