GUIDELINES ON RELIGION IN THE SCHOOLS Regulation: 3515
In considering the role or the absence of the role of religion in the school district, it is important to remember that the First Amendment of the United States Constitution does not forbid all mention of religion in public schools. It is the advancement or inhibition of religion that is prohibited. Teaching against religion is as intolerable as teaching specific religious beliefs. However, the use of religious subjects or materials in public schools is allowed as long as the religious components are presented as part of a religiously neutral program of education.
The following guidelines on religion and religious practices in the schools are provided in order to avoid infringement of individual rights and to set forth the board’s position concerning certain religious issues:
- Teachers may include religion’s role in appropriate subjects in the curriculum, such as literature, history, the humanities and the arts. When teaching about religion, teachers will not promote a particular religion but will use fairness and objectivity.
- School personnel will take into account the possible effects of religious holidays on school attendance when planning school calendars. When possible, examinations and other major events will not be scheduled on such holidays.
- Students who miss school because of religious reasons have the approval of the principal will be given an opportunity to make up school work.
- The use of religious symbols and music as part of a religious holiday, such as Christmas or Hanukkah, is permitted as a teaching aid or resource. Symbols that are displayed as an example of the cultural and religious heritage of the holiday are to be used on a temporary basis.
- Music, art, literature, and drama related to religious holidays may be studied and performed in programs if they are presented in an objective and neutral manner as a tradition of the cultural heritage of the particular holiday. Such programs should be a part of a curricular unit and should be simply staged and costumed.
- The secular teaching about religions and about the history and practice of religions is permitted. The teaching of patriotic, historic, and literary documents having religious references embedded in them is permitted. Students will be permitted to express religious themes through their natural artistic talents. Religion classes that are historical survey courses and offer an elective credit in social studies are permitted as part of the high school curriculum.
- Students may read religious materials, including the Bible, during the school day, except when they are involved with their classroom work or other school activities, as long as reading these materials does not infringe on the rights of others or interfere in any way with the school program.
- School personnel may read religious materials, including the Bible, and pray on their free time and may carry or wear religious symbols when on duty at school as long as these activities and symbols do not interfere with their work. Principals and other administrative personnel should be sensitive to and show respect for religious beliefs held by other employees and students. In dealing with religious issues, they should do so in a manner that will not show or imply favor or disfavor for an employee’s or student’s religious beliefs.
- Counseling of students or informal discussions with students by school personnel will neither infringe on the students’ religious beliefs nor seek to indoctrinate students in the particular religious beliefs of the individual.
- In scheduling speakers for classes and school assembly programs, schools may schedule motivational speakers; however, speakers should not advocate a particular religious creed.
Legal References: U.S. Const. amend. I; Equal Access Act, 20 U.S.C. §§4071-4074; N.C. Const. art. I, §14; G.S. 115C-36, -47
Cross References: Religion in the Schools (policy 3515)
Adopted: November 26, 2007