The Bossier Parish School Board has issued the following statement in response to a demand letter sent by the ACLU last week in regards to religious activity at Airline High School. The statement was issued and read aloud at the school board’s regular session meeting, following an executive session legal counsel.
The full statement is as follows:
The Bossier Parish School Board is committed to honoring the state and federal law as it relates to the rights of all students, regardless of their religious beliefs. Within the last week, the ACLU has complained about alleged practices at Airline High School relative to prayer, the principal’s monthly messages, prayer boxes and the content of the school’s website. The system has also received Freedom Guard’s open response to the ACLU’s allegations and legal analysis.
The Board’s counsel has investigated the allegations raised by the ACLU and found them to be without a factual or legal basis. At the same time, the Board wishes to publicly reaffirm its intent to operate a successful school district in which equal access is recognized and the legal rights of all students are respected, including those of its students who wish to engage in student-lead, student-initiated religious expression.
This statement is being entered into the official minutes of this Board and released to the press. Copies are being sent to the Governor, the State Superintendent of Education, members of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Executive Director of the Louisiana School Board Association as such persons and entities, along with the members of our school communities and parents, are stake-holders in our school system.
The Board and its administration welcome meaningful discussion of this and any issue but will base their decisions on the law and facts as they know them to exist. Decisions in the best interest of our students can never result from threats and intimidation.
The Bossier Parish School Board unanimously passed a resolution at its Oct. 1 regular session meeting, following an executive session with its legal counsel, that says the school district respects and seeks to preserve the constitutional rights of all its students and employees.
Resolution Pronouncing to the Citizens of Bossier Parish and Louisiana:
– Bossier Parish Schools respect and comply with federal and state laws
– Bossier Parish Schools respect and seek to preserve the constitutional rights of all its students and employees
Whereas, the Bossier Parish School Board is committed to respecting and conforming to the provisions of our federal and state constitutions and laws; and
Whereas, the Bossier Parish School Board recognizes and embraces its responsibility to respect and conform to the provisions of our federal and state constitutions and laws as they pertain to the fundamental rights of students and employees to engage in free speech and the free exercise of religion; and
Whereas, the Bossier Parish School Board recognizes that religious liberty is the “first freedom” guaranteed by the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution, and that our history and tradition respect the “freedom of religion,” not the “freedom from religion;”
Now therefore be it resolved that the Bossier Parish School Board does hereby proclaim to the citizens of Bossier Parish, the citizens of the State of Louisiana, and to freedom-loving Americans everywhere that in Bossier Parish schools the constitutional and statutory rights of students to engage in student-led, student-initiated religious expression shall be respected, allowed and defended; and
Be it further resolved, that the Bossier Parish School Board does hereby proclaim that in Bossier Parish schools the principles of equal access shall be respected, allowed and defended for all appropriately recognized religious student organizations; and
Be it further resolved that this resolution be entered in the official minutes of this Board, with copies being sent to the Governor, the State Superintendent of Education, members of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, all members of the Louisiana Legislature, the President and Superintendent of every Louisiana School Board, the executive director of the Louisiana School Board Association, all public education stakeholder organizations/associations, all declared 2015 candidates for the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Louisiana gubernatorial race, state representative races, state senate races, presidents or chairmen of every Louisiana parish government, Chamber of Commerce offices in Louisiana and all schools in Bossier Parish.