In addition to guaranteeing the freedom to freely practice one's religion, the First Amendment also guarantees the freedom from the government establishing (endorsing) a religion. This tension in the law often plays out in debates over public school prayer, since schools may not restrict a student's expression -- provided it's voluntary and non-disruptive -- or promote any particular religion. The U.S. Supreme Court clarified this in 1962 with a ruling that stopped a public school from lead students in an official prayer at the start of each day.
Students who wish to do so still have the right to pray, as long as it doesn't interfere with the secular goals of public education. Some states have a "minute of silence" for students and faculty to silently meditate or pray, but some states lack statutory guidance.
See FindLaw's Religion at School section For additional articles related to school prayer, including School Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance: Constitutionality.
Prayer in Kansas Public Schools: Overview
Kansas law requires school observation of a one-minute period of silence, in which students may pray or use the time for quiet reflection. This is common among most states that have laws addressing school prayer, but the practice is largely controlled by constitutional law.
|Applicable Code Section||72-5308a|
|What is Allowed?||"Periods of silence" authorized. In each public school classroom the teacher in charge may observe a brief period of silence with the participation of all the pupils therein assembled at the opening of every school day. This period shall not be conducted as a religious exercise but shall be an opportunity for silent prayer or for silent reflection on the anticipated activities of the day.|
Note: State laws may change at any time, usually when newly signed legislation is enacted, but sometimes through court decisions or ballot initiatives. Be sure to contact a Kansas education law attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
The Lemon Test: Does it Violate the First Amendment?
The so-called "Lemon" test says that a public school's policy involving religion -- in order to be considered constitutional -- must:
Research the Law
Kansas Public School Prayer Laws: Related Resources
Contact a qualified attorney.