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New York Prayer in Public Schools Laws

The role of prayer and religion in public schools is a hot topic of debate in New York, as it is throughout America. Prayer in public schools involves values that have always been fundamental to America -- the separation of church and state, as well as freedom of religion. What happens if students want to pray in a public school (a government institution)?

Federal courts have been reluctant to wade into the murky waters of prayer in school. A more specific subject, the question of whether the Pledge of Allegiance (which many public school students are required to recite each morning) violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment has been a heavily litigated issue. After a series of appeals that went back and forth, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the inclusion of those words did not violate constitutional law.  

The Empire State does not have statutes specifically addressing the matter. It does, however, have an education code provision allowing students to engage in a brief period of silent meditation -- during which students can choose (or not choose) to use as time to silently meditate on a religious theme or for silent reflection.

 While New York laws do not address prayer in public schools, it is far from a settled legal issue. The following links and resources should help you better understand the issue.

Applicable Code Section

Educ. §3029-a

What is Allowed?

Brief period of silent meditation which may be opportunity for silent meditation on a religious theme or silent reflection

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a New York education attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

More Information

For more information on the issue of prayer in New York public schools, you can click on the links listed below to access additional resources on the topic. You can also learn more about different states’ laws on prayer and religion in public schools by browsing FindLaw’s article, Details on Prayer in Public Schools Laws. Finally, if you find you need even more information or assistance, you can always consult with a local education attorney.

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