********The students will begin praying today, May 1, which is significant
for some of the Russian immigrant students, as this is "May Day,"
the day the former Communist Soviet Union celebrated Communism
Vancouver, WA - Twelve Heritage High School students, who were suspended in March for praying together in the large commons area of their cafeteria, have been vindicated. Liberty Counsel represented several of the students in an appeal of the suspensions to the Evergreen School District. As a result, the suspensions will be purged from their files and there will be no negative impact on their academic records.
The District has also agreed to recognize the students' right to pray in the cafeteria when other students are gathered there before school. The cafeteria commons area is a large area that will easily accommodate groups as large as 20 students without blocking access for other students. In addition, the students will be provided a room to start a club.
The students will begin praying today, May 1, which is significant for some of the Russian immigrant students who were suspended, as this is "May Day," the day the former Communist Soviet Union celebrated Communism.
A few weeks before their suspension, the students tried to start a prayer club to meet before school, but they met with resistance from Vice Principal Alex Otoupal. Since the students understood that the school would not permit a club, they decided to gather together as individuals in the cafeteria before school to pray, but they were sent outside in the cold by the vice principal after one Satanist student complained to school officials. After the students insisted on praying in the cafeteria, they were suspended.
Students have the constitutional right to gather together to pray before school, just as they can gather to discuss sports, music or movies. In these days of discord and violence, schools should know better than to ban students from praying. What a terrible message would have been sent to these students, some of whom immigrated from the Communist Soviet Union. Now they have learned that one person can make a difference in America when standing up for religious freedom."