Prayer Rooms Are Just One Way Public Schools Accommodate Students And Religious Freedom

A classroom used as a prayer room at Liberty High School in Frisco got the attention of the Texas attorney general’s office last week.

By Stella Chavez March 24, 2017 9:30 am| , , ,

From KERA News:

Tim Boyer was so unhappy about the prayer room at Liberty High that he went to this week’s Frisco school board meeting and spoke his mind.

“Liberty High School is not a mosque. It’s not a synagogue. It’s not a tabernacle. It’s not a temple. It’s not a church,” Boyer said. “It is a school. It is a public school supported by taxpayers for the purpose of educating our children.”

The Frisco Independent School District has said it didn’t violate any state or federal laws by having a prayer room and that the room is open to students of all faiths.

It’s not clear how many public schools in Texas have prayer rooms or designated areas where students can pray, but they are in some schools across the state and country.

“You may hear it said sometimes that prayer’s been kicked out of public schools,” said Joy Baskin, director of legal services with the Texas Association of School Boards. “In fact, what has been determined by the courts is that schools can’t compel prayer.”

Baskin said prayer rooms in schools are acceptable and legal under the First Amendment. Schools can also give students time to pray, whether it’s during free time or a lunch period. They can give students passes to leave class to pray or leave campus for religious education.

“It’s a concept that courts have looked at for many years,” Baskin said. “It’s called ‘release time,’ and it’s the idea that in order to follow a tenet of faith, the student is briefly excused. It’s an opportunity to have an excused absence in order to follow a tenet of faith.”

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