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Attorney: Schools violating Constitution

Nov. 1, 2011 at 10:19 AM

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Nov. 1 (UPI) -- School officials in Clay County, Fla., said they will comment on a legal opinion that prayers conducted at four district schools violate the U.S. Constitution.

A spokesman for Superintendent Ben Wortham said Wortham would not be able to respond to the opinion until after he returns to town, The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union reported Tuesday.

At issue is School Board attorney J. Bruce Bickner's opinion that morning prayers at the flagpole led by a Baptist minister are a clear case of endorsing religion and thus violate the U.S. Constitution.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation based in Madison, Wis., complained about the prayers and asked the district to stop them.

Instead, Bickner suggested holding flagpole prayers at a much earlier time in the morning when teachers aren't present.

"I think I could live with that," said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of Freedom from Religion.

Gaylor said the district should establish a clear written policy about prayer and schools.

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