Pledge practice to continue
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.