PUTNAM COUNTY, Tenn. (WZTV) — Putnam County Schools administrators were told this week that teachers and staff, including coaches, can't lead students in prayer.
This came in response to a letter from Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The group wrote to PCS that there were several instances of prayer and proselytizing at events at Cookeville and Upperman high schools.
A spokeswoman for Putnam County Schools said the school board attorney was consulted.
The case law not allowing prayer or proselytizing is clear. Courts have consistently ruled that prayer and proselytizing can not be sponsored by schools or school personnel.
School administrators were told by the attorney to make sure all policies and laws concerning prayer at school-sponsored activities are followed.
The schools added this in a statement to FOX 17 News:
"As a district, we absolutely understand the importance of prayer in the lives of our students, faculty, and staff members. We support the right of students to participate in and lead spontaneous prayers. That right is and will continue to be protected. We also understand that faculty and staff members can not lead or participate in the spontaneous student-led prayers."
The move has some parents upset. They're planning to show a sign of support of at Upperman's game against Stone Memorial.
"We do realize this is a public school, but it has always been optional for players to pray, and has been a voluntary event. Players that still want to pray will have to do it on their own," Dustin Whitefield wrote to FOX 17 News. "After the game, players and cheerleaders that choose to will be on the field praying on their own. A group of parents will be going out on the field to support them. We will join hands and encircle them from a distance as a sign of protection and solidarity in choosing to continue to pray. This is a parent led event! We are encouraging anyone that would like to show their support to please join us."
FOX 17 News will continue to update this story as information develops.
Get reports like this and all the news of the day in Middle Tennessee delivered to your inbox each morning with the FOX 17 News Daily Newsletter.