Teachers Not Allowed To Speak At After-School Prayer Event
By Tim Wetzel & Heather Graf
PLEASANT VIEW, Tenn. - Cheatham County teachers were told they couldn't speak at an after-school prayer event on Wednesday night. Students organizing the service said that violates the Constitution.
The student group said they got permission to hold the "Fields of Faith" event on-campus at Sycamore High School, but they had no idea that teachers couldn't take part until Wednesday morning.
The controversy did not put an end to the music and worship on Wednesday night, but it did put a damper on things. About a dozen teachers showed up, but kept a low profile in the stands.
School system administrators told teachers they could go to the "Fields of Faith" event, as long as they didn't take a leadership or speaking role.
Organizers told NewsChannel 5 that kept at least one teacher from taking the stage and left the students who put this event together in disbelief.
"I wish that it didn't come to this and I'm very sad this happened to Cheatham County. I really wish teachers had the right to actively participate in stuff outside of school, and not instructional time," said Sycamore High School Sophomore Naomi Parker, who organized the event.
Naomi's mom said the district needs to re-learn the first amendment.
"I wonder what's going to happen on Sunday morning when a teacher goes to teach Sunday School. If someone will then say someone will recognize you as a teacher and will they stop that at some point," said Julia Parker.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Tim Webb said that the district must take every precaution in regards to the separation of church and state, because it's already been sued once about the very same issue.
The district recently settled the lawsuit that was filed in 2009 by four families who were accusing the system of promoting Christianity in three different schools.