The Georgetown County School Board — for the first time — began its meeting with a moment of silence rather than with a Christian prayer this week.
Earlier this month, the decision was made to replace prayer with the moment of silence at the urging of District attorney David Duff.
His recommendation was made in the wake of a statewide investigation into religious activities launched by the American Civil Liberties Union.
After Duff’s presentation, School Board Chairman Jim Dumm said the board will follow that advice and there will no longer be prayers at other events such as graduation ceremonies and district-sponsored sports events.
The ACLU, as part of its investigation, has issued Freedom of Information requests to every school district in the state.
However, Georgetown County is the only school district in the state to already take action banning prayers since the requests were issued, according to the Palmetto Family Council.
“Every school District Superintendent received their warning letter (from the ACLU) and one district in particular is in a panic,” Palmetto Family Council President Oran Smith wrote in an organization newsletter this week, referring to Georgetown County.
At Tuesday’s meeting, School Board member Teresa Bennani said she feels a second legal opinion is needed before a permanent decision is made about prayer within the district.
She said she and other board members have been approached by the public concerned about the removal of prayer.
She said before the board revamps its prayer policies, she would like to get advice from an attorney who specializes in First Amendment law.
“We need to get the best counsel we can get,” she said.
Dumm said Wednesday he has not had a chance to talk with Dozier about Benanni’s suggestion.
“We will take it under advisement,” he said.
Meanwhile, parents and students continue to show support for prayer within the district. As reported Wednesday, at the Carvers Bay-Georgetown football game last week, many in attendance recited the Lord’s Prayer during the moment of silence.
The same happened at the Andrews football game.
On Thursday morning, a group of parents and students gathered outside Rosemary Middle School for a prayer before students went to class.
By Scott Harper
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