Controversy Over Prayer Room at Texas High School

Angie Massey
March 20, 2017

According to the Texas Tribune, Liberty High School Muslim students have been quietly using room C112 for seven years to practice their daily prayers - a solution for students missing class to run home and pray in the middle of the school day.

In what has been described by as a "publicity stunt", Ken Paxton wrote an open letter to the suburban Dallas school to express his "concerns" that the school had violated the Constitution as the classroom was "not available to students of all faiths".

Without access to a prayer room, Muslim students would have to leave the school for prayer sessions. And they're not happy about it. The letter, written by Deputy Attorney General Andrew Leonie to Frisco's superintendent, Jeremy Lyon, warned that reserving the room for one religion would be unconstitutional.

School officials said it is a regular classroom that can be used for other activities at certain times during the day.

Ken Paxton, doing what he does best.

"The letter was sent to the school district via email prior to issuance of a press release", the spokesman wrote.

Twice in that interview, Paxton said he hadn't heard anything back from the district, suggesting he hadn't read the news at all over the weekend. Lyon's 2-page letter states. Indeed, it seems the OAG's only trigger for responding was some recent uncontroversial media coverage that the prayer room had received. "Absent such evidence, this "Press Release" appears to be a publicity stunt by the OAG to politicize a non-issue".

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The Texas Attorney General is looking into the Public School Prayer Room issue many of you have questioned.

The attorney general's office became aware of the prayer room thanks to a story and video report earlier this month on Wingspan, the school's campus news site. This is clearly a reference to the fact that only "some" students have "religious needs" for such an accommodation. "The District is prohibited from failing to reasonably accommodate and/or discriminating against these students because their religion dictates the time and manner of their prayer".

But when he recently caught wind of a Frisco school going out of its way to designate a prayer room for students, his office sent an angry letter to the superintendent's office demanding an explanation. In it, Principal Scott Warstler specifically says of the Muslim students, "They take care of themselves in their group and they accept those that are a part of their group". "Honestly, if others wanted to go in and learn to see and experience that, our students are okay with that".

In 2015, Mr Paxton joined 15 other states to oppose a lawsuit from an atheist society to stop school board officials from conducting religious prayers before public meetings.

Likely referencing the Trump administration's multiple Muslim bans and constant fear-mongering that Islam is a threat to the United States, Lyon called out the OAG for further fomenting such intolerance.

"I assure you that that room is accessible to all students of all denominations, all walks of faith, all cultures, all ethnicities, and I assure you that that is in place", said Chris Moore, the executive director of communications and community relations for Frisco ISD.

Other reports by GizPress

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