LOGAN CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT
POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

Title Recognizing Religious Freedoms in SchoolsNumber521
Section500 Student Services Approval DateAugust 11, 2015
Subsection520 Student RightsEffective DateAugust 11, 2015


1. PURPOSE:
1.1.Given their unique relationship to children attending district schools, school administrators and staff must be particularly careful to remain neutral in matters relating to religion, while striving to accommodate the religious beliefs and practices, and the freedom of conscience of students and their parents.
1.2To give direction regarding students' individual constitutional rights in the operation of district schools.
2.REFERENCES
2.1United States Constitution: Article I and Article III
2.2Utah State Constitution: Article X, Sections 1 and 3
2.3Utah Code Ann. § 53A-13-101
2.4Utah Board of Education Rule 277-105 Recognizing Constitutional Freedoms in Schools
3.DEFINITIONS
3.1Conscience: a standard based upon learned experiences, a personal philosophy or system of belief, religious teachings or doctrine, an absolute or external sense of right and wrong which is felt on an individual basis, a belief in an external Absolute, or any combination of the foregoing.
3.2Discretionary time: student school-related time that is not instructional time, including free time before and after school, during lunch, between classes, or on buses, and private time before athletic and other events or activities.
3.3Exercise of religious freedom: the right to choose or reject religious, theistic, agnostic, or atheistic convictions and to act upon that choice.
3.4Guardian: a person who has been granted legal guardianship of a child in accordance with state law.
3.5Instructional time: time during which a school is responsible for a student and the student is required or expected to be actively engaged in a learning activity, including instructional activities in the classroom or study hall during regularly scheduled hours, required activities outside the classroom, and counseling, private conferences, or tutoring provided by school employees or volunteers acting in their official capacities during or outside of regular school hours.
3.6Parent: means a biological or adoptive parent who has legal custody of a child.
4.POLICY
4.1Curriculum will be designed to achieve permissible educational objectives, be presented within the context of the approved curriculum, and no religious tenet, belief, or denomination may be given inappropriate emphasis, including agnostic, or non-theistic assumptions.
4.2A parent or guardian of a student may request a waiver of participation in any portion of the curriculum or school activity which the requesting party believes to be an infringement upon a right of conscience or exercise of religious freedom.
4.2Students participating in a classroom discussion, presentation, or assignments, or in a school sponsored activity will not be prohibited from expressing personal beliefs of any kind nor be penalized for so doing, unless the conduct unreasonably interferes with order and discipline or threatens the well being of persons or property.
4.3.Students may initiate and conduct voluntary religious activities or otherwise exercise their religious freedom on school grounds during discretionary time unless the conduct unreasonably interferes with order or discipline or threatens the well being of persons or property.
4.4District administrators and staff may neither authorize nor encourage prayer or devotional activities in connection with any class, program, presentation or other student activity which is under the control, direction, or sponsorship of a district school.
4.5Staff members' rights relating to voluntary religious practices and freedom of speech do not include proselytizing of any student regarding atheistic, agnostic, sectarian, religious, or denominational doctrine while the staff members are acting in the their official capacity, nor may staff members attempt to use their position to influence a student regarding a student's religious beliefs or lack thereof.
4.6The Board and district staff will cooperate and share responsibilities in the implementation of this policy.
5.PROCEDURE
5.1Creation and Implementation of Curriculum
5.1.AA study, performance, or display which includes examination of or presentations about religion, religious thought or expression, or the influence thereof in music, art, literature, law, politics, history, or any other portion of the curriculum may be undertaken in district schools so long as it is designed to achieve permissible educational objectives and is presented within the context of the approved curriculum.
5.1.BObjective study of comparative religions is permissible, but no religious tenet, belief, or denomination may be given inappropriate emphasis.
5.1.CNo aspect of cultural heritage, political or moral theory, or societal value may be either included or excluded from consideration in the public schools primarily because it explicitly or implicitly contains theistic, agnostic, or atheistic assumptions.
5.1.DAn analysis of religion, deity, an absolute moral principle, or any other concept that may contain a theistic, agnostic, or non-theistic assumption, may be presented when included as an appropriate component or aspect of a broader study, display, presentation, or discussion regarding cultural heritage, political theory, moral theory, or a societal value.
5.2Requests for Waiver of Participation in School Activities.
5.2.AA parent, a legal guardian of a student, or a secondary student may request a waiver of participation in any portion of the curriculum or school activity which the requesting party believes to be an infringement upon a right of conscience or the exercise of religious freedom because such participation would:
5.2.A.1Require affirmance or denial of a religious belief or right of conscience;
5.2.A.2Require participation in a practice forbidden by a religious belief or practice, or right of conscience;
5.2.A.3Bar participation in a practice required by a religious belief or practice, or right of conscience.
5.2.BA claimed infringement under Subsection A must rise to a level of belief that the requested conduct violates a superior duty which is more than personal preference.
5.2.CIf a minor student seeks a waiver of participation under Subsection A, the school should promptly notify the student's parent or legal guardian about the student's choice.
5.2.C.1In the event of a conflict, a parent's or legal guardian's wishes will prevail over those of a minor student.
5.2.DA parent, guardian, or secondary student requesting a waiver of participation under Subsection A may also suggest an alternative that requires reasonably equivalent performance by the student of the objective of the curriculum or activity that is believed to be objectionable.
5.2.EIn responding to a request under Subsection A, the school should do one of the following:
5.2.E.1Waive participation by the student in the objectionable curriculum or activity;
5.2.E.2Provide a reasonable alternative, as suggested by the parent or secondary student, or other reasonable alternative developed in consultation with the requesting party, that will achieve the objectives of the portion of the curriculum or activity for which waiver is sought; or
5.2.E.3Deny the request.
5.2.FA request for waiver of required participation should not be denied unless the responsible school official finds that requiring the participation of that particular student is the least restrictive means necessary to achieve a specifically identified educational objective in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest.
5.2.GIn responding to a request under Subsection A, the school should not require an affected student to accept a sub-standard or educationally deficient alternative that is unreasonably burdensome.
5.2.HPermitting the submission of requests for participation waivers and the provision of reasonable alternatives is intended to facilitate appropriate protection and accommodation of a requesting party's asserted right of conscience or exercise of religious freedom and should not be considered as an attempt by a school official to endorse, promote, or disparage a particular religious or non-religious viewpoint.
5.3Student Expression
5.3.A student participating in a classroom discussion, presentation, or assignment, or in a school sponsored activity, should not be prohibited from expressing personal beliefs of any kind nor be penalized for so doing, unless the conduct:
5.3.AInterferes unreasonably with order or discipline;
5.3.BThreatens the well-being of persons or property;
5.3.CViolates concepts of civility or propriety appropriate in a school setting.
5.4Student Initiated Religious Activities
5.4.AStudents may initiate and conduct voluntary religious activities or otherwise exercise their religious freedom on school grounds during discretionary time.
5.4.A.1Individuals not currently enrolled as students in the school may neither conduct nor regularly attend the activities.
5.4.A.2School staff may neither conduct nor actively participate in the activities, but may be present as necessary to ensure proper observance of school rules and may limit or prohibit student activities under this section which:
5.4.A.2.aUnreasonably interfere with the ability of school officials to maintain order and discipline;
5.4.A.2.bThreaten the well-being of persons or property;
5.4.A.2.cViolate concepts of civility or propriety appropriate in a school setting.
5.5Religious Services and Church-Owned Facilities
5.5.A.Public school officers and employees may neither authorize nor encourage prayer or devotional activities in connection with any class, program, presentation or other student activity that is under the control, direction, or sponsorship of the District or a public school.
5.5.A.1This Subsection will not act to restrict student rights under 5.4.
5.5.B.No school employee or student may be required to attend or participate in any religious service, whether in an individual capacity or as a member of a performing group, regardless of where or when the service is held.
5.5.B.1No penalty may be assessed for failure to attend or perform in such an activity.
5.5.C.Subject to the requirements of Subsection 5.2 Request for Waivers, students who are members of performing groups such as school choirs may be required to rehearse or otherwise perform in a church-owned or operated facility if the following conditions are met:
5.5.C.1The performance is not part of a religious service;
5.5.C.2The activity of which the performance is a part is neither intended to further a religious objective nor under the direction of a church official;
5.5.C.3The activity is open to the general public.
5.5.D.Students may voluntarily attend and perform during a religious service as individuals or as members of a group, provided students or non-school personnel make all arrangements.
5.5.EReligious activities may be conducted on the same basis as any other non-school activity outside of regular school hours.
5.5.FSubject to the requirements of Subsection 5.2 Request for Waivers, students may be required to visit church-owned facilities when religious services are not being conducted if the visit is intended solely for the purpose of pursuing permissible educational objectives such as those relating to art, music, architecture, or history.
5.6Expressions of Personal Belief by Staff Members
5.6.AStaff members' rights relating to voluntary religious practices and freedom of speech do not include proselytizing of any student regarding atheistic, agnostic, sectarian, religious, or denominational doctrine while staff members are acting in their official capacity, nor may staff members attempt to use their positions to influence a student regarding the student's religious beliefs or lack thereof.
5.6.BEven though acting in their official capacities, staff members may respond in an appropriate and restrained manner to spontaneous questions from students regarding staff members' personal beliefs or perspectives.
5.6.B.1Due to the special position of trust held by staff members, they may not advocate or encourage acceptance of a belief or perspective; but may, by exercising due caution, explain or define personal religious beliefs or perspectives or opinions about the rightfulness or wrongfulness of their own or any other person's religious beliefs or lack thereof.
5.7Mandatory Supervision and Training as Required by the State of Utah
5.7.AThe Board and their employees should cooperate and share responsibilities in implementing this policy and procedures providing training to include the following:
5.7.A.1Students and/or parents desiring a waiver of participation or substitution of another activity should address the request to the staff member responsible for the activity.
5.7.A.1.aAppeals may be taken to the building administration if a request for a waiver of participation or substitution of another activity is not granted.
5.7.A.1.bAppeals denied by the building administration may be directed to the Superintendent or designee.
5.7.A.1.cAppeals denied by the Superintendent may be directed to the Board of Education.
5.7.A.2Parents will be informed if a minor secondary student makes a request pursuant to an exercise of freedom of conscience or exercise of religious freedom under state law initially by the staff member responsible for the activity with 48 hours of the request.
5.7.A.3If a waiver has been approved, the staff member requiring the assignment will provide an alternate assignment that is comparable to the original assignment.
5.7.A.3.aThe student will be given the same amount of time to successfully complete the assignment.
5.7.A.3.bIf a delay occurs in granting the waiver, the staff member will provide a new due date for the student with no penalty in grading said assignment.
5.7.A.3.cIf a waiver is not granted, the student and parent will have to determine whether the student will complete the assignment or take a lower grade.
5.7.A.4In the course of developing curriculum for a class, the primary source for said development is the Utah Core Curriculum.
5.7.A.4.aThe Utah State Office of Education will be notified and act as a reviewer of any curriculum proposed to be used by a staff member of the Logan City School District that has caused objection by a student or parent.
5.7.A.4.bThe review by the Utah State Office of Education will be sent to the Superintendent for his/her review.
5.7.A.4.cThe Logan City School District Board of Education will be presented with the review as final decision maker.