School sued for church graduation ceremony

Filed under: Day Care & Education

Yet another school is being sued for mixing public school and religion. West Side High School in New Jersey held their graduation ceremonies in a Baptist church, and now they're being sued by the ACLU.

The civil liberties organization say the decision violated the religious freedom of Bill Shareef, a Muslim student. Shareef's faith dictates that he cannot enter a building with religious images, and thus, he was not able to attend his own graduation.

Not only was the school district's decision insensitive to one of it's students, but it also violated a number of provisions in the state constitution that keep public institutions -- like state funded schools -- from showing preference to one religious sect over another, compelling people to attend a place of worship, and segregating or discriminating against public school students because of the religious principals.

This is the second time West Side High School has tried to force a particular set of religious beliefs on the student body. The New Jersey branch of the ACLU threatened legal action after the school held graduation at the New Hope Baptist church in 2005, but didn't sue after officials agreed that they wouldn't hold the ceremony at a religious location again. However, not only was graduation held at New Hope in 2006, but the principal went so far as to offer additional tickets to those who would attend a separate religious baccalaureate ceremony for the class at a Roman Catholic church.

When will schools finally accept that public education and religion are separate?

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