A school principal in Texas recently decided not to lead prayers at a Christian event, titled ‘See You at the Pole’, after receiving a letter of complaint from a secular group. Greg Wright, principal of Prosper High School (PHS), had been leading prayers and singing sermons for years at the school’s yearly youth event until one parent, Janie Oyakawa, asked Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) to intervene.
“If he wants to be the principal of a Christian school, he has all the freedom to do that. But I just want our high school to represent the people that are part of the community and contribute financially to it and not all of those people are Christians,” said Oyakawa.
The issue has been addressed in the past as well, when Wright’s supporters organized a prayer rally to back him last year.
In their letter of complaint, FFRF informed Superintendent Drew Watkins that school officials are not allowed to participate in prayer events or set up religious clubs.
“When a teacher or principal is on school property as part of the school day, even if it is before the official 8:24 a.m. start, they are there for their official duties, just as students are,” the FFRF letter read. “School staffers cannot lead, encourage, or participate in student-led religious activity. And any religious event or religious club at a Prosper Independent School District (PISD) school must be genuinely student-led.”
FFRF also objected to a cross and a placard in the assistant principal’s office that displays a staunchly religious message about God giving strength to believers on a daily basis.
“We understand that PHS Assistant Principal Grant displays a Latin cross and a plaque about god in her office,” the letter said. “That these displays are in Grant's office is immaterial. Students enter her office regularly and the displays are orientated towards those student visitors.”
Charles Crawford, attorney for the school district, confirmed that Wright would no longer lead prayers at any future student-led ‘See You at the Pole’ events. He also agreed that school officials would no longer display religious materials inside school buildings where students are likely to be present.
“Principal Wright is not forming a religious club for students, the First Priority Club. Rather, this club is being student formed and led,” Crawford said.
Photo Credits: First Priority