The Cranston School Committee (CSC) has voted 4-3 to keep the prayer banner displayed at Cranston West High School (CWHS) and one at Hugh B. Bain Middle School, says the Providence Journal. The constitutional squabble broke out in July when the Rhode Island affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU-RI) asked the district to remove the prayer, saying it violates the First Amendment and the constitutional principle of separation of church and state. The prayer, which calls on “Our Heavenly Father” to guide students, has been posted in the Cranston West auditorium since the it opened in 1963.
Only one previous complaint had been lodged, school Supt. Peter L. Nero and former Cranston West principal Edmund J. Lemoi have said, but school officials resolved the conflict without going to court and the prayer remained put. Committee member Stephanie A. Culhane, who voted against retaining the banner, warned that Cranston students cannot afford the educational cuts that may be made to pay for the litigation. “It’s a gamble that my three children [would] have to pay the cost of in the end,” she said.
Source: Providence Journal, 3/8/11, By Maria Armental
[Editor's Note: In August 2010, the Providence Journal reported the CSC had received a letter from the ACLU-RI asking officials to remove the banner displaying CWHS's school prayer, alleging it violates the First Amendment and the constitutional principle of separation of church and state. Facing a lawsuit, the CSC voted to form a subcommittee to study what to do about the prayer banner. According to the article, the subcommittee was tasked with deciding whether to rewrite the prayer, remove it, or fight the issue in court. A summary of the article is available below.]