West Clermont Local School District
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.

District staff members 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. Distribution of such materials on District property by any party shall be in accordance with Policy 7510 and AG 7510A - Use of District 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 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 encouraged. 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.

The Board shall not conduct or sanction a baccalaureate service in conjunction with graduation ceremonies.

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

At the discretion of the Superintendent, a moment of silence may be provided each school day for prayer, reflection, or meditation upon a moral, philosophical, or patriotic theme. However, under no circumstances shall students be compelled to participate.

The flag of the United States shall be properly displayed at each school on a daily basis.

The mottoes of the United States of America ("In God We Trust") and the State of Ohio ("With God, All Things Are Possible") shall be displayed in an appropriate manner in a classroom, auditorium, or cafeteria of a school building of the District, if copies of the mottoes or money to purchase copies of the mottoes are donated to the District. The donated or purchased copies of the mottoes shall meet the applicable design requirements as provided by statute.

Furthermore, the Board requires that an observance be scheduled each year on or about Veterans Day to convey the meaning and significance of that day to all students and staff. The amount of time each school devotes to this observance shall be at least one (1) hour or, in schools that schedule class periods of less than one (1) hour, at least one (1) standard class period. The Board shall determine the specific activities to constitute observance in each school in the District after consulting with the school's administrators.

R.C. 3313.601, 3313.602, 3313.76, 3313.77, 3313.801, 3314.03(A)(11)(h)
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)

© Neola 2009