Group alleges teacher prays in class; Bossier is investigating

Updated: Oct. 31, 2017 at 5:43 PM CDT
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BOSSIER PARISH, LA (KSLA) - A national group again is taking Bossier School District to task over the subject of religion in schools.

This time, the controversy focuses on an allegation that a teacher is illegally promoting religious practices to her students.

A letter Freedom From Religion Foundation sent by mail and email Oct. 26 to Bossier schools' superintendent says a parent complained about a month ago that a Legacy Elementary teacher practices prayer in her class.

At the start of class, the missive alleges, the teacher "goes student-by-student and asks what the student would like to pray for. The teacher then delivers a brief Christian prayer for whatever the child requests, writes down what the prayer was for, and then moves on to the next student."

The foundation notes that the teacher sent home letters giving parents the opportunity to exclude their first-graders from the practice.

But its letter also argues that "no amount of disclosure prior to this religious ritual can make it legally permissible."

Bossier schools Superintendent Scott Smith released the following statement Tuesday about the foundation's demands.

"This is the first this allegation has been brought to the attention of the administration at both the school and district levels and an investigation has begun.

"Though prayer is allowed in certain situations at school, such as at Fellowship of Christian Athletes meetings, Bossier Schools understands it is not permissible in the classroom.

"Should our findings support the claim made, this practice will cease immediately."

Here is the foundation's letter:

Earlier this month, there was debate over Bossier student athletes kneeling during the national anthem.

Representatives of the foundation, the American Atheists, the Center for Inquiry, the American Humanist Association, the Secular Student Alliance and the Secular Coalition for America wrote a letter to Bossier schools' superintendent.

That missive asked the School District to remove any policies keeping students from protesting during the national anthem.

It also urged Bossier public schools to stop prayers before sporting events.

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