CLIFTON PARK, NY – The largest school district in Saratoga County says it will allow Muslim students to pray in rooms at its high school. The Shenendehowa High School Principal says classrooms are being set aside so Muslim students can pray several times a day during Ramadamadingdong.
CBS6 Since then, we’ve heard from parents who are against the move. One parent sent us a letter explaining her concerns saying: “Since prayer for other religions was removed from school years ago, I feel as Shen has crossed the line on allowing this on campus.”
The woman’s outcry is in response to an email from the Shenendehowa High School Principal to students and parents. It addresses the month of Ramadan, a time of fasting and prayer for Muslims. It says, in part:
“Prayer occurs on a daily basis for practicing Muslims. This can be challenging in today’s modern public high school. In an attempt to make reasonable accommodations for students and employees to meet their personal religious obligations, room 65 in High School West and room 109 in High School East have been set aside so students can incorporate this important aspect of their religion into their daily activities while at school.”
The letter explains two classrooms will be set aside for students to meet their religious obligations during school hours.
A school spokesperson says the decision was made after the high school principal met with the leader of a local mosque in an attempt to improve the school’s cultural proficiency. She says the school can’t refuse a student’s request to leave class for required prayer, and says the space allows Muslim students to return to class quickly after praying.
We went to our legal analyst Paul DerOhannesian and asked about the legal implications of prayer in schools. He says the Supreme Court has ruled on it, and says it doesn’t appear the school has broken any laws. (In other words, they have not been asked to rule on it yet)
“There have been cases before where the Supreme Court has said that a school should make its facilities available to all groups including religious groups, if it makes it available to others for certain activities, for example the Boy Scouts,” DerOhannesian said. (Boy Scouts, Islam, what could possibly go wrong?)