Prayer patrol


Issue: "Sciavo: Saved by the bill," Nov. 1, 2003

Under God" is under scrutiny at the U.S. Supreme Court as the justices review a challenge to the Pledge of Allegiance. Meanwhile, the other two branches of the federal government are taking steps to guarantee student religious liberty under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The Department of Education will be watching for states to meet a Nov. 1 deadline set by Congress for school compliance with religious freedom protections.

NCLB requires the secretary of education to issue guidance for public schools concerning constitutionally protected prayer "to ensure that students' voluntary religious expression isn't prohibited," explains Susan Aspey of the Department of Education.

Each year, school districts must certify by Oct. 1 to their state that they are in compliance. States in turn must notify the secretary of any districts that have not complied with the requirement, and list what measures are being taken to recognize student religious rights. Any religious freedom complaints must be presented to the U.S. Education Department along with the report. About five states have submitted their reports so far, with no complaints, according to Miss Aspey.

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Jennifer Marshall
Jennifer Marshall


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