November 18, 2017

Texas Attorney General Raises Concerns over Frisco School Prayer Room

21 March 2017, 12:02 | Darin Griffith

Muslim students gather to pray inside a classroom at Liberty High. Lara Solt KERA News Special Contributor

Muslim students gather to pray inside a classroom at Liberty High

Without access to a prayer room, Muslim students would have to leave the school for prayer sessions. Paxton has also opposed atheists seeking to halt prayers before public meetings.

The letter from Deputy Attorney General Andrew Leonie raised constitutional questions about the prayer room for Muslim students that was featured last week in a KERA News series.

What an embarrassing display of political grandstanding.

In a letter to Frisco ISD, the Attorney General's Office wrote, "It appears that students are being treated differently based on their religious beliefs" and asked that the room be made "accessible to students of all religious denominations".

Just a week ago, Lyon added, Liberty's principal had been interviewed by the same school paper explicitly welcoming all students to use the prayer room.

Muslim students at Liberty High School using the prayer room.

The attorney general's office on Friday sent the school district an open letter expressing Paxton's "concerns" that the school district had violated the Constitution by not making the classroom available to students of all faiths.

In that article, Liberty Principal Scott Warstler says, "As long as it's student-led, where the students are organizing and running it, we pretty much as a school stay out of that and allow them their freedom to practice their religion". "What initial inquiry are you referring to?"

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Liberty High School in Frisco established the room in 2009 and it is described on the school's news website as a place "dedicated to the needs of some students".

"Religious discrimination towards Christians has become a holiday tradition of sorts among certain groups", Paxton said in a statement following the court's ruling.

School officials said it is a regular classroom that can be used for other activities at certain times during the day. Instead, every lunchtime a handful of students would come in and pray for five minutes. "To Frisco ISD's knowledge, it has not received any inquiry from the OAG on this issue", Lyon wrote. Absent such evidence, this "Press Release" appears to be a publicity stunt by the OAG to politicize a non-issue.

"It is important to note Frisco ISD is greatly concerned that this type of inflammatory rhetoric in the current climate may place the District, its students, staff, parents and community in danger of unnecessary disruption", he wrote.

He told the school's Wingspan News: 'We gave them a space so they didn't have to be in a vehicle traveling thirty minutes each way on a Friday missing an hour, hour and a half, of class'.

See the full text of the letter below.

Texas Attorney General Paxton made national headlines when he helped sue the school district in Killeen for taking down a 6ft poster, entitled A Charlie Brown Christmas, which included a Bible quote. "Your willingness to guarantee the freedom of student-led religious groups is laudable", the letter states, but also points out the words of the U.S. Supreme Court: "'One religious denomination can not be officially preferred over another'".

A prayer room at a Texas high school is raising legal concerns and the state's attorney general's office in a letter on Friday to school district's superintendent indicated the school's policy should be neutral toward religion.

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