East Valley Facing Lawsuit Over Prayer In School

SPOKANE — The East Valley School District is facing a federal lawsuit after telling a student and some of her friends they’re not allowed to pray at school during school hours.

While school district officials aren’t commenting on the case the attorney for the student says the district is violating her constitutional rights.

According to the lawsuit the girl was meeting with a group of friends during lunch at the high school to participate in fellowship, and pray about matters that are important to them. They were meeting in a room available to all student groups to use during lunch to gather and discuss whatever topic.

This lawsuit says though the school’s principal cited a district policy which states “religious services, programs or assemblies shall not be conducted in school facilities during school hours” and asked the girl and her friends, to stop praying during lunch.

There have been many different rulings about prayer in school but a letter to local school districts from the US Department of Education states that if a local school district wants to receive some federal funds it has to certify in writing “that it has no policy that prevents, or otherwise denies participation in, constitutionally protected prayer in public schools.”

In that same letter the Department of Education said, “among other things, students may read their bibles or other scriptures, say grace before meals, and pray or study religious materials with fellow students during recess, the lunch hour, or other non-instructional time.”

The plaintiffs in the case are seeking one dollar in damages, which is reportedly typical in First Amendment cases. More than anything the plaintiff wants to set a precedent and be able to pray again at school during lunch.