High School

Canton High School to Refrain From Using Prayers in School Events

Canton High School is under hot water with the Freedom From Religion Foundation for inviting a reverend to speak at the school’s 2018 graduation ceremony.

During the graduation, Principal Derek Folan invited Reverend John Tomilio to deliver an invocation, according to FFRF's letter to Superintendent Jennifer Fischer-Mueller. The reverend allegedly called upon a "holy, loving and most gracious God," to bless the graduates, the letter said. 

The invocation, which was delivered at the high school’s June 1 graduation, included multiple religious references, something that disturbed the family of one of the graduating seniors.

FFRF sent a letter to Fischer-Mueller on June 29, alerting her that the school violated the Establishment Clause, which states that schools cannot allow any kind of guests to deliver a prayer at school functions.

In the letter, the foundation’s attorney, Colin McNamara, wrote: “The Supreme Court has specifically struck down clergy-delivered prayers at school-public graduations....”

The school took three months to respond to the foundation’s request on how Canton Public Schools will refrain from implementing religious rituals in school-sponsored events in the future.

The superintendent replied in a letter dated Sept. 5: “I am writing to confirm that steps have been taken to ensure that there will be no prayers or religious rituals as part of any school ceremony....”

The organization said it is satisfied with the school district’s response. 

The superintendent could not be reached for comment. 

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