School district says no to closing prayer at high school graduat - KMSP-TV

School district says no to closing prayer at high school graduation

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) - There is a controversy over prayer at a high school graduation ceremony in the town of Pima.

Students have prayed at that school's graduation for decades, but this year it's been banned.
Students had already voted on the senior to lead them in the prayer, but yesterday school officials called it off.

The superintendent has been with the district for two years now and says he made this change when he found out it could set the school up for a lawsuit.

The school is located in the town of Pima near Safford Arizona. A few thousand people live there, and the high school graduating class is about 40 students, so it's not a very large school but it is at the center of a very big controversy.

When seniors gather on the football field to graduate from Pima High School on May 21st there will be caps, gowns, and speeches but one thing there won't be is a prayer.

The district superintendent has said no to prayers at the graduation ceremony even though the entire senior class voted to have an opening and closing prayer.

"I was kind of upset because our class voted for prayer, and to have the superintendent say we could not have prayer for graduation, it sucked," said Calleigh Summers.
So why no prayers? Superintendent Sean Rickert who made the decision told FOX 10; "this is a step I take as an administrator to increase the district's compliance with the law".
Calleigh Summers who was going to give the closing prayer at the ceremony says she's disappointed in the decision.
"It does not really make sense to me because we as a class wanted it, so I don't see how it's illegal for us to want a prayer," she said.
Superintendent Rickert says the school could potentially be sued by allowing prayer at a graduation ceremony but added "avoiding a lawsuit is not what is driving this. Our primary reason is to make sure we are not violating student's rights".
Many parents are confused by the decision since they say prayers have been a tradition at Pima high graduations for decades.

"There's been no one come forward and say I don't want a prayer, in fact, it's stirred up the opposite reaction it's caused the community to be very close now," said Al Summers.
There will be a school board meeting Thursday night in Pima the board could override the superintendent's decision to ban prayers at the graduation, but he told us if that happens he doesn't know what the next step would be.
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