ERIC Number: ED416591
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1998-Jun
Reference Count: N/A
Religious Expression in Public Schools: A Statement of Principles.
Department of Education, Washington, DC.
These guidelines, addressing the extent to which religious expression and activity are permitted in public schools, were originally issued in 1995. Changes have been made in the sections on religious excusals and student garb to reflect the Supreme Court decision in "Boerne v. Flores" declaring the Religious Freedom Restoration Act unconstitutional as applied to actions of state and local governments. Richard W. Riley, U.S. Secretary of Education, suggests in his introduction that school districts should use the guidelines to revise their own districtwide policies regarding religious expression and inform teachers, parents, and students about religious expression in school. Two basic and equally important obligations are imposed on public school officials by the First Amendment. First, schools may not forbid students acting on their own from expressing their personal religious views or beliefs solely because they are of a religious nature. At the same time, schools may not endorse religious activity or doctrine, nor may they coerce participation in religious activity. The principles are applied to the following topics: (1) student prayer and religious discussion; (2) graduation prayer and baccalaureates; (3) official neutrality regarding religious activity; (4) teaching about religion; (5) student assignments; (6) religious literature; (7) religious excusals; (8) released time; (9) teaching values; (10) student garb; and (11) provisions of the Equal Access Act. A list of eight associations and groups that can answer questions on religious expression in public schools is appended. (MLF)
Descriptors: Board of Education Policy, Commencement Ceremonies, Compliance (Legal), Constitutional Law, Court Litigation, Elementary Secondary Education, Federal Courts, Federal Regulation, Government Publications, Guidelines, Parent School Relationship, Public Schools, Religion, Religion Studies, School Prayer, State Church Separation, Student Rights
Publication Type: Legal/Legislative/Regulatory Materials
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Policymakers; Practitioners
Authoring Institution: Department of Education, Washington, DC.
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Equal Access Act 1984; First Amendment