The Tangipahoa Parish, La., school board voted unanimously last week to appeal a federal judge’s ruling striking down its practice of opening meetings with a prayer.
U.S. District Judge Helen G. Berrigan ruled on Feb. 25 that the First Amendment’s prohibition against government-established religion means that prayer at school board meetings is unconstitutional. The decision came in a lawsuit filed by parents against the board of the 18,000-student district, located in Amite, La.
The nine-member board voted unanimously on March 1 to appeal the ruling.
Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, a Democrat, deplored the ruling in a statement, saying that she believes such prayers are “entirely appropriate” and that she would ask for the state to file a brief supporting the board in the appeal.
“Although I disagree with other court rulings that have greatly curtailed prayer in our public schools, this ruling makes it illegal to do what the Louisiana legislature and the U.S. Congress do every day—ask for God’s blessing and guidance during their deliberations,” the governor said.
A version of this article appeared in the March 09, 2005 edition of Education Week