Proposed Ohio Policy Will Spell Out How Faith is Practiced in Schools

April 29, 2004

Source: This Week

On April 29, 2004 This Week reported, "A recent issue in Columbus Public Schools is one reason Jad Humeidan, executive director of the Ohio branch of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), is eager to see a proposed district policy that will spell out how students can practice their faith in schools. During a phone conversation Tuesday, he said a particular CPS school allowed students to use part of their lunch period to pray as a group in the library. But at another school, students trying to do the same thing were told that prayer was not allowed on the school grounds. Later, he said, the principal told them they could pray but could not congregate. 'This creates a lot of problems, when procedures are not the same in different schools. ... Students talk to one another,' he said. Such issues are behind the proposed policy, said school board Vice President Karen Schwarzwalder, who chairs the board's legal, policy and personnel (LPP) committee. The LPP group is awaiting input from religious groups on the policy, but only the Catholic Diocese of Columbus has responded so far, out of about a dozen groups that were sent letters, CPS legal counsel Giselle Johnson said Monday at the panel's meeting. She said the diocese's only comment was that it wanted to be sure teachers would not lead prayer sessions."