A federal lawsuit challenging coach and teacher-led prayers in a Georgia school district has been dismissed with the school district and the organization that filed the suit reaching an out-of-court settlement, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution and other media outlets.
The American Humanist Association filed the suit in December on behalf of three residents whose identity was not revealed.
In announcing the settlement on its website, the AHA said Hall County schools superintendent Will Schofield will provide principals within the district a memo to outline “the standards for religious neutrality” and that administrators will undergo a training session to “educate staff and coaches on their constitutional duties.”
“We are pleased that the district is taking productive steps forward to ensure compliance with the Constitution, and we expect that it will stop the student-staff prayer activities and other problematic conduct,” David Niose, AHA legal director said in a statement.
The suit was filed after photos surfaced of coach-led prayer by the Chestatee (Gainesville, Ga.) High School football team.
In its own statement, the school district:
“We agree that routine professional training for staff should include the legal rights and responsibilities of individuals regarding issues related to religion in the public school setting. While public school students are guaranteed wide-ranging religious freedoms, employees’ rights are more limited when in their work settings.
“The Hall County School District admits to no violations of state or federal laws. The district will continue to hold the expectation that individuals within our organization abide by the laws of our land.”
Hall County spokesman Gordon Higgins told the AJC that the district will make sure teachers and staff are “more cognizant” of the First Amendment guidelines. According to the guidelines released by the Bush administration in 2003, “teachers and other public school officials may not lead their classes in prayer, devotional readings from the Bible, or other religious activities.”