AU learned that the Roseville Joint Union High School District planned to relocate Roseville High School’s June commencement ceremony from its usual venue — the school’s football stadium — to the Adventure Christian Church. The decision was made to accommodate plans to replace the turf at the field. AU wrote a letter to school officials, informing them that holding the graduation in a church would be unconstitutional, and encouraging them to delay the renovations to the football stadium for two weeks so that the ceremony could take place there.
AU learned that Western Brown High School had a practice of including prayer at its annual graduation ceremonies. In May 2005, pastors from the local Church of Christ and First Baptist Church delivered an invocation and a benediction at the high school’s commencement ceremony. In an effort to prevent a repeat of the Establishment Clause violation during the high school’s May 2006 graduation, AU wrote a letter to school officials informing them that any prayer — whether offered by a school official, outside clergy, or a student — is impermissible at public-school graduations.
AU received a complaint from a local citizen regarding the City’s 2006 National Day of Prayer Celebration. City officials used city resources to organize and promote the prayer. AU wrote a letter to the City, informing officials that, while they have the right to participate in their individual capacities in National Day of Prayer events, the Establishment Clause bars them from using their public employment or public resources to sponsor such activities. Subsequent monitoring of the City indicates that officials have ceased their impermissible involvement with these events.
AU learned that the York City Council opened its regular meetings with sectarian prayers offered in the name of Jesus Christ. Council members confirmed this practice in an article published in the local newspaper. We wrote a letter to the City Council, informing members that legislative prayer must be nonsectarian. York Mayor Edward Lee called AU in response to the letter, and promised to address AU’s concerns with the other Council members and to be more vigilant about the issue in order to avoid future sectarian prayers.
AU received a complaint from a San Antonio resident who was upset about the City Council’s use of Christian invocations to open regular meetings. The prayers often invoked Jesus and included other references to Christianity. AU wrote a letter to the City Council, informing members that the sectarian prayers are unconstitutional. The complainant has reported to AU that invocations delivered since that time have been nonsectarian.
AU received a complaint about a research-paper topic assigned to Franklin High School’s tenth-grade honors-biology class. The assignment required students to research and write a paper presenting “specific scientific evidences” for creationism and evolution. According to the complainant, the biology teacher assigns the research paper each year. AU wrote a letter to school-district officials, informing them that the assignment raised serious constitutional problems.