3000 - Educational Program

3515 Religion In The Schools

The United States Constitution and North Carolina Constitution protect the right of an individual to choose his or her own religious or non-religious beliefs and prohibit any governmental action that may advance or inhibit such beliefs. This policy is intended to protect the religious rights of students and school personnel, to preserve the separation of church and state, and to provide guidance to students and personnel about religion in the public schools.

The Board of Education, administration and staff recognize the First Amendment rights of students and staff. It is the policy of the Board of Education not to prevent, or otherwise deny participation in, constitutionally protected prayer in the system’s schools, consistent with guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Education and applicable judicial decisions interpreting the religion clauses of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and North Carolina statutes. This policy supersedes any other board policy that might be inconsistent with it.

CONSTITUTIONAL STANDARD FOR RELIGIOUS ACTIVITIES

In order to ensure that the school system upholds constitutional standards within the religiously neutral role assigned to public schools, school personnel should review the following issues for each school-sponsored observance, program, instructional activity, or other activity involving religious content, ceremony or celebration:

1. the purpose of the activity and whether the purpose is secular in nature;

2. the primary effect of the activity and whether the activity either advances or inhibits religion;

3. whether the activity involves an excessive entanglement with a religion or religious group or between the schools and a religious organization;

4. whether the school system’s action constitutes endorsement of religion or a religious activity; and

5. whether the activity coerces students to participate in a religious activity.

If the activity is considered inconsistent with constitutional requirements based upon the standards above, and any other applicable legal standards, the activity will not be permitted in the school system. Questions concerning the constitutionality of activities should be forwarded to the Superintendent and Board Attorney for clarification.

It is the Board’s policy to comply with federal and state law regarding religion and religious expression in the schools, and this policy shall be interpreted and applied so as to fulfill that purpose.

The Superintendent may draft administrative regulations to implement this policy.

Legal References:

U.S. Const. amend. I; Equal Access Act, 20 U.S.C. 4071-4074; N.C. Const. art. I, § 14; G.S. 115C-36, -47, -407.30-407.33

Cross References:

Board Attorney (policy 2610), Goals and Objectives of the Educational Program (policy 3000), Curriculum Development (policy 3100), Religious-Based Exemptions from School Programs (policy 3510)

Adopted:

April 11, 2011

Last Updated: June 14, 2016

Legal References:
U.S. Const. amend. I; Equal Access Act, 20 U.S.C. 4071-4074; N.C. Const. art. I, § 14; G.S. 115C-36, -47
Cross References:
Board Attorney (policy 2610), Goals and Objectives of the Educational Program (policy 3000), Curriculum Development (policy 3100), Religious-Based Exemptions from School Programs (policy 3510)
Adopted:
Monday, 11 April 2011
Last Updated:
Tuesday, 14 June 2016