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A professor and constitutional expert at Loyola University said the settlement by a Louisiana public school district that was promoting religious messages in the classroom is an important step for students of all faiths.
According to WBRZ.com, the lawsuit was filed against the Bossier Parish School District by Americans United for Separation of Church and State. According to Nola.com, in January, the school approved policy changes that would end the promotion of Christianity in a parish school. Americans United claimed parents were worried their children were dealing with religious coercion from administrators at the school.
“This settlement represents a very important and positive step towards bringing the parish's policies into compliance with longstanding Supreme Court precedent and towards ensuring that Bossier Parish schools are a welcoming place for students of all faiths,” Loyola's Johanna Kalb told Louisiana Record.
The settlement, which was approved by U.S. District Judge Maurice Hicks Jr. on March 7, sets requirements for the Bossier Parish School Board, which will create a monitoring committee to ensure there are no violations of religious freedom in the school. It also states that the school board must seek out facilities so that school events will not have to be held in houses of worship.
Kalb believes that the settlement and decision of the judge are two steps in the right direction when it comes to furthering the religious freedom of all students, not just those of a particular religious belief system.
“The Court has made clear that students are permitted to pray on their own in public schools, but teachers, administrators, and other school officials are not permitted to promote a particular religion to their students or coerce students to participate in prayer by making it a central part of classroom or extracurricular activities,” Kalb said.
The settlement will uphold the students’ rights to exercise their own religious freedom.