Texas School Drops Religious Service After AU Complaint

Officials at a public school in Texas have agreed to drop sponsorship of a religious service for graduating seniors after Americans United warned them that the practice is unconstitutional.

Attorneys with Americans United contacted the Grapevine-Colleyville School District last summer and advised them that the school's involvement in an annual Christian service, called a baccalaureate, was constitutionally problematic.

In recent years, some parents in the district had expressed concern about the event. School officials would print information about the baccalaureate on the graduation program, and some school staffers had a hand in organizing it.

In May of 2003, for example, the event took place in the gymnasium of Colleyville Heritage High School. It was listed as an event on the official school invitation for the school's graduation ceremonies, and members of the school faculty helped students plan and organize the service. The main speaker at the baccalaureate service was the school's choir teacher.

In the future, school officials told AU, the event will be turned over to a private organization.

"We want to make sure we're doing what's right," Robin McClure, a spokeswoman for the district, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.