PROSPER, Texas — A Texas principal has agreed to no longer speak at future “See You at the Pole” school prayer events in his capacity as a public official following the demands of a prominent atheist activist organization.
According to reports, for the past 21 years, Dr. Greg Wright, the principal of Prosper High School has been leading prayers and delivering sermons at the annual youth prayer event. But recently, parent Janie Oyakawa contacted the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) about Wright’s practice, as well as his alleged formation of a Christian club for students.
“If he wants to be the principal of a Christian school, he has all the freedom to do that. But I just want our high school to represent the people that are part of the community and contribute financially to it and not all of those people are Christians,” she told local television station NBCDFW.
Her complaints, which were also posted online, resulted in a prayer rally on campus in late September in support of Wright.
As a result of the situation, FFRF sent a letter to Superintendent Drew Watkins to demand that school officials refrain from participating in prayer events or forming religious clubs.
“When a teacher or principal is on school property as part of the school day, even if it is before the official 8:24 a.m. start, they are there for their official duties, just as students are,” the letter from the organization read. “School staffers cannot lead, encourage, or participate in student-led religious activity. And any religious event or religious club at a PISD school must be genuinely student-led.”
The correspondence also took issue with a cross and plaque in the assistant principal’s office that reads, “God didn’t promise days without pain, laughter without sorry, nor sun without rain. But he did promise strength for the day.”
“We understand that PHS Assistant Principal Grant displays a Latin cross and a plaque about god in her office,” the letter said. “That these displays are in Grant’s office is immaterial. Students enter her office regularly and the displays are orientated towards those student visitors.”
On Monday, FFRF announced that it had received a reply from Charles Crawford, the attorney for Prosper Independent School District, advising that Wright will no longer speak “in his capacity as district employee at future on-campus, student-led See You at the Pole events.” Crawford also agreed that officials will not “prominently display religious materials in school buildings where students are likely to be present.”
But he also asserted that “Principal Wright is not forming a religious club for students.” Crawford contended that the club is rather “being student formed and led.”
FFRF says that it is going to continue to monitor the school to ensure that it is following through with the group’s demands.