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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

School prayer question hits Pinellas officials



High school students should know the difference between right and wrong, a St. Pete man told the Pinellas County school board at a town hall meeting Tuesday night. But elementary school students might not, and they could benefit from prayer in school, he said. Would the Pinellas school board consider it?

The short answer: no, but prayer isn't completely gone from schools, either.

"Prayer is not stripped from schools -- it's just that we can not promote a specific religion," said Superintendent Michael Grego.

No one is stopping students from reciting their own prayers or muttering a hymn on the football field, Grego said. But as far as an official school prayer, "What's stopping us is the separation of church and state. We as an employer can not promote a particular religion [but] I want to be clear that it's not absolutely cleared out."

School board member Peggy O'Shea said she grew up with prayer in her New York public school, but said the Pinellas school board would get hit with lawsuits if it tried to pursue it.

Fellow board member Terry Krassner said school officials have to be "sensitive" to all students and to do so, must not condone prayer in school. "We do have Jehovah's Witness children," Krassner said.

[Last modified: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 11:33am]


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