Liberty Institute’s findings on the constitutionality of Conway schools’ policy allowing ministers to visit students at lunch show the group finds the policy “neutral.”
The report released late Thursday says the policy does not advance or inhibit religion.
‘It is, in fact, completely agnostic as to the profession or officiation of any non-student visitors. Were CPS to prohibit ministers from making use of the neutral policy, however, CPS would violate the First Amendment rights of these ministers,’ the report states.
A recommended amendment to the school’s policy was submitted with the report to ‘ensure any confusion as to the nature of the policy is avoided and that the policy cannot be exploited in an unconstitutional manner.’
In the report’s opening letter, Liberty Institute notes the school’s existing policy is constitutional and ‘neutral on its face’ because the policy does not favor religion over non-religion.
Both religious and non-religious visitors alike are allowed access to students.
The amended policy submitted by Liberty Institute states visitors to junior high or high schools shall maintain a list of each student with whom the visitor is affiliated.
Further, principals at each school shall take reasonable efforts to segregate visitors and students they are visiting from other students, such as providing a separate table for visitors and the students they are visiting.
The policy states principals can review lists at any time and may exclude a visitor from engaging with any student not on the visitor’s list.
Elementary or middle school students may only have visitors when parents have given consent, the recommended policy states.
Liberty Institute was retained pro bono by the school after threat of litigation because of the allowance of religious visitors and their contact with students came in October from Freedom From Religion Foundation, a group that works to promote separation of church and state.
Liberty Institute has said the report and its findings will be presented to the Conway Schools Board of Education at its upcoming Feb. 12 meeting.
Check back for full story. Check here for reports: http://con-cdn.com/sites/default/files/CPS Proposed Policy 6.5.pdf