Religious Rights

Policy Approve By
Dr. Dean O. Stenehjem, Superintedent
Policy Date (original policy date)
Reviewed (date last reviewed but not changed)
Policy Prepared By
James Bickfordddddd, Director of Education
Policy Category

PURPOSE:  The Washington State School for the Blind recognizes the right of students to the free exercise of religion and to have their school free of sectarian control.  The school shall neither promote nor disparage religion, nor interfere with the free exercise thereof (except where it impinges upon the rights and/ or sensibilities of others in the living environment).  Staff members and students are expected to create an atmosphere condu­cive to the acceptance of divergent beliefs.

  I.     The school shall expend no funds for the promotion or en­couragement of any religious belief.

A.   School staff and vehicles may not be used to transport students to or supervise students while at religious gatherings.

 II.    Religious groups may rent WSSB facilities consistent with the policies and procedures of facility usage.

III.    As a residential facility, WSSB may inquire of parents regarding the parents' desire for their child's participa­tion in off-campus religious activities.

 IV.   Instruction in religious matters as it pertains to the historical, cultural, and sociological development of civi­li­zations is permitted.  Such instruction must be conducted in a neutral, non-devotional manner and have a secular purpose.

A.   Such instructional activities must be equally balanced with other religions and beliefs.

B.   A student may decline to participate in school activi­ties which are contrary to his/her religious convic­tions.

  V.   Religious symbols, prayer, and devotional activities.

A.   Students may of their own volition engage in private, unobtrusive prayer or devotional activities.

B.   Students shall not display religious symbols or state­ments through clothing, posters, or other means. Such symbols, articles, or displays will be sent home. (Agreed to by the Residents Rights Committee in June 1993.)

 VI.   Assemblies

A.   Assemblies shall not be of a devotional nature, nor shall speakers promote any particular religious thought.

B.    Music of a religious nature may be presented through its historical and artistic significance.

VII.  Religious Holidays

A.    The school shall not limit the right of the parents to determine when their children should be absent from school for the observance of religious holidays.

B.    The school may recognize significant religious holi­days/events as long as:

  1. No devotional activities are required
  2. No religious objects or symbols are displayed.
  3. Students are not required to participate in such activ­ities.
  4. Secular, traditional customs are observed, i.e., tree decorating at Christmas, games at Hanukkah, etc.