Mississippi Teacher Resigns After Prayer Controversy

A public school teacher in Mississippi has resigned after she was asked by school officials to stop praying with her students.

In May, Franklin County School District Superintendent Grady Fleming issued math instructor Alice Hawley a letter of non-renewal, stating she was being let go for “continued and regular leading of your students in prayer during class,” and “insubordination by failure to stop having class prayer after being told to stop.”

But Hawley was reinstated the next morning because there was no evidence she had been previously asked to stop the prayer practice.

Americans United then sent a letter to Fleming and the school’s principal, reminding them that the school district “has not only the right, but the duty, to prohibit Hawley from praying with her students during contract time.”

AU’s letter asserted, “Public school employees simply do not have the ‘right to make the promotion of religion a part of their job description.’ The courts have consistently upheld school districts’ authority both to prohibit school employees from injecting religion into the public school setting and to discipline employees who violate this edict.”

Soon after the school received AU’s letter, Hawley asked to be released from her contract. The teacher said she would rather quit than stop praying with her students.

“I wasn’t going to quit praying as long as the students wanted it,” she told the Brookhaven Daily Leader. “Why get fired and then not be able to be hired because you were fired for insubordination? That would have went [sic] on my record.”