Student-Led Prayer

Greenville County Schools

July 19, 2019 - 6:32 pm

From the Greenville County Schools Director of Communications, Beth Brotherton:

On Thursday, the South Carolina District Court issued a ruling in the almost six-year old case between Greenville County Schools and The American Humanist Association (AHA) involving student-led prayer. 

The ruling included a permanent injunction requiring the school district to continue many of its existing practices to avoid religious entanglement, such as ensuring student speakers are selected on religiously-neutral criteria like class rank or leadership roles. 

It also gave further direction and guidance to the district related to the first amendment’s establishment clause in the selection of music and the role of employees in reviewing student comments prior to events such as graduation ceremonies.

“We are pleased that the Court has upheld the fundamental issue of the case and supported our position that students selected to speak at graduations based upon religiously neutral criteria, have the right to share their personal stories, even if those include a religious message. 

We are also pleased that the Court refused to grant AHA’s request to prevent all remotely religious messaging or prayer at School District events. As a district, we have made every effort to consistently comply with the constitution and protect the rights of all students.”

The ruling also directs the district to include a disclaimer in graduation programs that the views and opinions of students are their own and not that of the district.

 As a district, we have made every effort to consistently comply with the constitution and protect the rights of all students. We will continue to review the court order to evaluate whether clarification of this decision or a potential appeal may be warranted.

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