Education

No Student Vote on Graduation Prayers

By Mark Walsh — March 10, 2008 1 min read

The season for graduation-prayer controversies is upon us.

But a prayer lawsuit in Texas appears to have been settled somewhat amicably.

A federal district judge in Austin has approved a settlement that bars the Round Rock Independent School District from allowing students to vote on whether to have any form of prayer, benediction, or invocation at graduation ceremonies.

The suit by unidentified plaintiffs was backed by Americans United for Separation of Church and State in Washington. The group’s press release is here, and the settlement document is here.

The settlement says such student votes will be barred unless the U.S. Supreme Court specifically rules to allow school districts to hold student elections on graduation prayers, or if the high court overturns or limits its 2000 decision in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe.

In that case, the court ruled that student-initiated, student-led prayers at high school football games violated the First Amendment’s prohibition against government establishment of religion.

The Austin American-Statesman reports here that the superintendent of the Round Rock district was pleased to have the case settled and that the school board had already decided to end student votes on graduation prayers.

A version of this news article first appeared in The School Law Blog.