Pledge prac­tice to con­tinue

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - — Staff re­port

Spring­dale Su­per­in­ten­dent Jim Rollins will con­tinue the prac­tice of the past few months of be­gin­ning monthly School Board meet­ings with the Pledge of Al­le­giance only and then con­tin­u­ing into the busi­ness of the meet­ing, he said.

For years, School Board meet­ings in­cluded an open­ing prayer, but the prac­tice has stopped, based on ad­vice from the School Dis­trict’s staff at­tor­ney Ken­dra Clay and con­tin­ued re­search on the is­sue, he said. “It was my thought for a long time that we could deal with the is­sue the way we have,” he said. “I have tried to de­velop an ec­u­meni­cal prayer.” “Schools by def­i­ni­tion have the le­gal chal­lenge of be­ing neu­tral in the face of re­li­gion, be­ing re­spec­tors of all,” he said. “We have not found a le­gal res­o­lu­tion.”

Dis­trict of­fi­cials con­tinue to re­search, but hav­ing young chil­dren in meet­ings and con­cerns about be­ing neu­tral to­ward re­li­gion has led to ad­just­ments to School Board meet­ings, Rollins said.

“My rec­om­men­da­tion is we move for­ward as we have,” Rollins said. The Free­dom From Re­li­gion Foun­da­tion in Madi­son, Wis., sent a let­ter to boards in Spring­dale on Dec. 29 and Har­ri­son on March 6 telling them the pub­lic prayers vi­o­lated the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion. The Har­ri­son School Board in April voted to re­sume pub­lic prayers at its meet­ings.

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