Religion and Education
In re Episcopal School of Dallas is a recent Texas court case affirming a faith-based school’s right to manage its internal affairs according to its beliefs, including its discipline decisions.
A recent Ninth Circuit case examines First Amendment challenges for government employees in the context of a football coach’s practice of praying publicly on the 50-yard line after games.
This post outlines a suit by a gay student against his Catholic high school and provides some practice pointers for religious schools on avoiding similar issues.
Religious schools have always had the right to decide whether students should have to keep a moral code as a condition of enrollment. A recent case out of Texas, In re St. Thomas High School, solidifies this right.
One challenge in figuring out what religious speech is permitted for students is that it depends on whether the school is trying to prevent the speech or allow it. A January 2013 Second Circuit case, A.M. v. Taconic Hills Central School District, gives some insight, though it is a summary order that is not precedential.
On August 29, 2012, the Eighth Circuit decided in favor of Child Evangelism Fellowship in Child Evangelism Fellowship v. Minneapolis Special Sch. Dist. No. 1. It reversed the denial of CEF’s preliminary injunction where it had tried to stop a school district in Minnesota from limiting school facility access for a Good News Club.
Moss v. Spartanburg County School District Seven, a June 2012 Fourth Circuit case, expands possibilities for religious education for public school students. The main educational paradigms in the United States are public school, private school, and home school. Conventional wisdom holds that religious education takes place more effectively in the second two. But released-time is a viable option for religious education within the public school paradigm.
In released-time, a public school student is released from campus for a class period to take religious instruction off-campus. While such programs must meet certain requirements, when they do so, they are consistently held constitutional. Typically, the students do not get credit for classes, and at least one case, Lanner v. Wimmer, was critical of the credit option.
This article discusses the intersection of religious expression and public schools. It focuses on the Equal Access Act, student speech, school personnel speech, access forcommunity viewpoints, and released time.
Confusion is widespread as to what may be taught, expressed, or otherwise introduced onto the premises of the nation’s public schools. “Nowhere has the proper line of demarcation [in the appropriate amount of separation between church and state] been more difficult to define than in our nation’s public schools.”1As the Tenth Circuit has said:
So long as the state engages in the widespread business of molding the belief structure of children, the often recited metaphor of a “wall of separation” between the church and the state is unavoidably illusory.2... Read More →