Bossier Parish school officials could be taking steps to settle a lawsuit against them over prayer in schools.

School Board members on Thursday are scheduled to vote on a policy that outlines when and how Bossier students can pray and discuss religion while on campus or at school events.

The proposed policy also bars school employees from participating in or encouraging prayers or expressing personal religious beliefs to students, but says employees can wear symbols of their faith.

The policy comes two months after Americans United for Separation of Church and State and some parents sued the school system, alleging it violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause requiring separation of church and state. The lawsuit cited examples of teachers discussing their beliefs; employees encouraging students to pray or attend religious services; and proposed prayer boxes at Airline High School in Bossier City.

The proposed policy supplements an existing policy regarding student prayer, said Jon Guice, the board’s attorney.

Webster Parish school officials appear on the verge of settling a similar lawsuit over prayer in schools after approving virtually the same policy Monday night.

In 2017, parent Christy Cole sued the Webster school system, alleging it promotes religion through official daily prayers and other activities at Lakeside High School.

Guice, who also represents the Webster Parish School Board, met with Cole’s attorneys and a federal judge Tuesday to discuss a settlement in the suit.

The settlement, if approved, would decide the case in favor of Cole and require the school system to follow court-required guidelines for prayer in schools, among them the new policy.

Attorneys involved in the Webster Parish lawsuit return to court May 15.


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