The School Board of Miami-Dade County
Bylaws & Policies
Unless a specific policy has been amended and the date the policy was revised is noted at the bottom of that policy, the Bylaws and Policies of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools were adopted on May 11, 2011 and were in effect beginning July 1, 2011.
 

8800 - RELIGIOUS/PATRIOTIC CEREMONIES AND OBSERVANCES

Religious expression and activity are permitted in the schools as follows:

 A.Graduation prayer and baccalaureates: School officials may not mandate or organize prayer at graduation, nor organize religious baccalaureate ceremonies. If a school generally opens its facilities to private groups, it must make its facilities available on the same terms to organizers of privately sponsored religious baccalaureate services. A school may not endorse such ceremonies.

 B.Official neutrality regarding religious activity: Teachers and school administrators, when acting in those capacities, are representatives of the State and are prohibited by the establishment clause from soliciting or encouraging religious activity and from participating in such activity with students. Teachers and administrators also are prohibited from discouraging activity because of its religious content and from soliciting or encouraging antireligious activity.

 C.Religious Literature: Students have a right to distribute religious literature to other students on the same terms as they are permitted to distribute other literature that is unrelated to school curriculum or activities. Schools may impose the same reasonable time, place, and manner or other constitutional restrictions on distribution of religious literature as they do on nonschool literature generally, but they may not single out religious literature for special regulation.

 D.Student garb: Students may wear religious attire and may not be forced to wear gym clothes that they regard, on religious grounds, as immodest.

 E.The Equal Access Act: Student religious activities are allowed the same access to public school facilities as are student secular activities. See Policy 5730.

District staff shall not use prayer, religious readings, or religious symbols as a devotional exercise or in an act of worship or celebration. The District shall not act as a disseminating agent for any person or outside agency for any religious or anti-religious document, book, or article.

The School Board shall not adopt any policy or rule respecting or promoting an establishment of religion or prohibiting any student from the free, individual, and voluntary exercise or expression of the studentís religious beliefs. However, such exercise or expression may be limited to lunch periods or other non-instructional time periods when students are free to associate.

Observance of religious holidays through devotional exercises or acts of worship is also prohibited. Acknowledgement of, explanation of, and teaching about religious holidays of various religions is permitted. Celebration activities involving nonreligious decorations and use of secular works are permitted, but it is the responsibility of all faculty members to ensure that such activities are strictly voluntary, do not place an atmosphere of social compulsion or ostracism on minority groups or individuals, and do not interfere with the regular school program.

 A.Religious symbols created by the children to be displayed on the public schools on a temporary basis are permitted. Children may display, upon their own person, such religious symbols as they desire.

 B.Singing religious hymns is permitted.

 C.Showing motion pictures which are to some degree religious in nature and which depict various religious happenings, principles, ideals, and teachings are prohibited.

 D.The observance of religious holiday ceremonies, such as plays around Christmas time depicting the birth of Christ, and around Easter of the Crucifixion of Christ, Hanukkah ceremonies, and other religious ceremonies on school property, is prohibited.

 E.The traditional holiday parties and symbols such as the Christmas tree, together with other decorations which are not religious in nature are permitted.

If a parent determines that any nonacademic activity in the public schools violates their religious conscience, the Parent shall have the right to request the release of his/her child from participating in the activity. The Principal shall grant the request and provide for the orderly care of the released child.

A brief interval of silent meditation shall be observed each day in the schools. However, under no circumstances shall students be compelled to participate.

F.S. 1000.06, 1002.20
20 U.S.C. 4071 et seq.
Gregoire vs. Centennial School District 907 F.2d 1366, (3rd Circuit, 1990)
Lee vs. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649, 120 L. Ed.2d 467 (1992)