School Board Policy 609 -

Adopted: september 8, 1997
REVISED: june 11, 2001
revised: december 14, 2009
revised: november 8, 2010
revised: may 9, 2016
revised: february 8, 2021
Revised: April 8, 2024

I. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to identify the status of religion as it pertains to the programs of the school district.

II. General Statement of Policy

A. The school district shall neither promote nor disparage any belief pertaining to religion. Instead, the school district encourages all students and employees to have respect for each other’s views.

B. The school district also recognizes that religion has a significant role in the social, cultural, political, and historical development of civilization.

C. The school district recognizes that one of its educational objectives is to increase its students’ knowledge and appreciation of music, art, drama, and literature, each of which may have religious and secular components/aspects.

D. The school district supports the inclusion of religious music, art, drama, and literature in the curriculum and in school activities, provided it is intrinsic to the learning experience and is presented in an objective manner without sectarian indoctrination.

E. The historical and contemporary values and the origin of various religions, holidays, customs, and beliefs may be explained in an unbiased and nonsectarian manner.

III. Responsibility 

A. It shall be the responsibility of the Superintendent to ensure that the study of religious materials, customs, beliefs, and holidays in the school district is in keeping with the following guidelines:

1. The proposed activity must have a secular purpose.

2. The primary objective of the activity must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion.

3. The activity must not foster excessive governmental relationships with religion.

4. Notwithstanding the foregoing guidelines, reasonable efforts must be made to accommodate any student who wishes to be excused from a curricular activity for a religious observance. The school district must provide annual notice to parents of this policy.

B. The Superintendent is granted authority to develop and present for School Board review and approval directives and guidelines for the purpose of providing further guidance relative to the teaching of materials related to religion. Approved directives and guidelines shall be attached as an addendum to this policy.

Legal References:
U. S. Const., Amend. I
Minn. Stat. § 120A.22, Subd. 12(3) (Compulsory Instruction)
Minn. Stat. § 120A.35 (Absence from School for Religious Observance)
Minn. Stat. § 121A. 10 (Moment of Silence)
Good News Club v. Milford Central School, 533 U.S. 98 (2001)
Santa Fe Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290 (2000)
Tangipahoa Parish Bd. of Educ. v. Freiler, 530 U.S. 1251 (2000)
Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S.602 (1971)
Child Evangelism Fellowship v. Minneapolis Special Sch. Dist. No. 1, 690F.3d996 (8th Cir. 2012)
Wigg v. Sioux Falls Sch. Dist., 382 F.3d 807 (8th Cir. 2004)
Doe v. School Dist. of City of Norfolk, 340 F.3d 605 (8th Cir. 2003)
Stark v. Independent Sch. Dist. No. 640, 123 F.3d 1068 (8th Cir. 1997)
Florey v. Sioux Falls Sch. Dist. 49-5, 619 F.2d 1311 (8th Cir. 1980)
Roark v. South Iron R-1 Sch. Dist., 573 F.3d 556 (8th Cir. 2009)
Child Evangelism Fellowship v. Elk River Area Sch. Dist. No. 728, 599 F. Supp. 2d 1136 (D. Minn. 2009)
LeVake v. Independent Sch. Dist. No. 656, 625 N.W.2d 502 (Minn. App. 2001)
Minn. Op. Atty. Gen. 169-J (Feb. 14, 1968)
Minn. Op. Atty. Gen. 169-K (Oct. 21, 1949)
Minn. Op. Atty. Gen. 63 (1940)
Minn. Op. Atty. Gen. 120 (1924)
Minn. Op. Atty. Gen. 121 (1924)

Cross References:
WBLASB Policy 801 (Equal Access to Facilities of Secondary Schools)