Morgan County Schools
Bylaws & Policies
 

8800 - RELIGIOUS/PATRIOTIC CEREMONIES AND OBSERVANCES

Decisions of the United States Supreme Court have made it clear that it is not the province of a public school to advance or inhibit religious beliefs or practices. Under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, this remains the inviolate province of the individual and the church of his/her choice. The rights of any minority, no matter how small, must be protected. No matter how well intended, either official or unofficial sponsorship of religiously-oriented activities by the school are offensive to some and tend to supplant activities which should be the exclusive province of individual religious groups, churches, private organizations, or the family.

County staff members shall not use prayer, religious reading, or religious symbols as a devotional exercise or in an act of worship or celebration, in a school setting. The County shall not act as a disseminating agent for any person or outside agency for any religious or anti-religious document, book, or article. Distribution of such materials on County property by any party shall be in accordance with Policy 7510 and AG 7510A Use of County Facilities and Policy 9700 and AG 9700 Relations with Special Interest Groups.

The Board acknowledges that it is prohibited from adopting 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 student's religious beliefs, other than the limitation of the same to appropriate time and place such as during lunch period or at 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 encouraged. Celebration activities involving nonreligious decorations and use of secular works is 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.

The Board shall not include religious invocations, benedictions, or formal prayer at any school-sponsored event.

The flag of the United States, four by six feet, of regulation bunting shall be raised above each school and/or at other appropriate places during all school sessions, weather permitting. The flag shall be raised before the opening of school and taken down at its close every day unless the flag is lighted. Any United States flag of flag or the State of West Virginia purchased out of the County Board building fund or with State funds must be manufactured in the United States. The teacher, custodian or other person in charge of the building during the session is responsible for this flag being displayed at the school.

Professional staff members are authorized to lead students in the Pledge of Allegiance at an appropriate time each school day. However, no student shall be compelled/required to participate in the recitation of the Pledge. Additionally, the Board prohibits the intimidation of any student by other students or staff for the purposes of coercing participation. The Superintendent shall develop administrative guidelines which ensure that any staff member who conducts this activity does it at an appropriate time, in an appropriate manner, and with due regard to the need to protect the rights and the privacy of a nonparticipating student.

20 U.S.C. 4071 et seq.
Gregoire vs. Centennial School District, 907 F.2d 1366, (3rd Cir.1990)
Lee vs. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577 (1992)
18-5-15b, Code of West Virginia
WV Code 1-6-1, 18-5-24 and 18-5-15b