Are there any circumstances in which a student of a public school
can constitutionally pray over the school's public address system,
on school property, at a school sponsored event?
Before jumping into the materials below, first
read the new materials listed to the right under "Spotlight."
Next, read "Summary of the State of the Law: Prayer in Public
Schools" to get a short 2 1/2 page overview of the current
state of the law. Click
here to go directly to the Summary.
Then, proceed as follows into the more indepth materials:
the law review article, Those Dangerous Student Prayers,
before proceeding to other areas of the website. This is important
because the article will provide the information that will be the
basis for understanding the remainder of the website. The article
represents the most current treatise on the subject of school prayer
and includes a discussion of the most recent federal decisions.
The article is purposefully written in a style that is easily understandable
by non-attorneys. Click here to go to the
law review article.
after completing the law review article, read the Model Student
Speaker Policies For Public Schools. These are the most current, updated versions of the polices analyzed in the law review article. Click
here to go to the Model Policies page.
read Steps Students, Parents, and the Community Can Take. Click
here to go to the Steps page.
to view additional information on the subject of school prayer,
go to Editorials and Other Information. From this single page, one
may access individual videos, editorials, articles, editorial cartoons,
and other information. Click
here to go to the Editorials & Other Information page.
the law firm of Coghlan & Associates may be retained to assist
with school district compliance. Click
here to go to the Contact page.
there are a number of non-profit legal organizations that focus
on the subject of religious liberties. Anyone having a legal issue
regarding religious freedoms may contact these organizations directly.
Weblinks have been provided to instantly take the reader to the
websites of these various organizations. Click
here to go to the Links page.
Chronicle Editorial, "Shock and awe of a resurgence in
school prayer" by Kelly Coghlan. May 1, 2003. Click
here to view.
of Education's "Guidance on Constitutionally Protected
Prayer in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools." Click
here to go directly to the Department of Education's website.
Texas State Board of Education's Resolution recommending adoption
of a particular type of student speaker policy to comply with
the law. Click
here to view the Resolution.
version of the student speaker policy recommended for
adoption by public schools. This is the same policy recommended
by the State Board of Education but has been updated to reflect
the new language of the U.S. Department of Education's prayer
guidance for public schools. Kelly Coghlan authored both the
earlier and current version of the student speaker policies.
more than six years, Kelly Coghlan has led an effort to have
the federal courts provide an answer to the following question:
"Are there any circumstances in which a student of a
public school can constitutionally pray over a school's public
address system, on school property, at a school sponsored
event?" the answer is clearly a resounding "YES"!
Mr. Coghlan is an attorney in Houston, Texas, a cum laude
and Order of the Coif graduate of the Southern Methodist University
School of Law and a cum laude and M Award graduate of the
Southern Methodist University School of Business. His principle
areas of practice are litigation, school law, and constitutional
He is a Fellow of the Houston Bar Association and a Fellow
of the College of the State Bar of Texas. Mr. Coghlan represented
159 Santa Fe High School students and parents pro bono as
amici curiae before the United States Supreme Court in Santa
Fe Independent School District v. Doe and continues to
represent Marian Ward pro bono in Ward v. Santa Fe Independent
School District, having obtained the first injunction
issued by a federal court to prevent a school district from
punishing a student for praying. Mr. Coghlan was named an
Impact Player of the Year in 1999 by The Texas Lawyer for
his work in school law matters.
Mr. Coghlan authored a law review article on the subject of
school prayer, published by the St. Mary's Law Journal, entitled
Those Dangerous Student Prayers, Vol. 32, Number 4,
at 809-880 (2001). It is one of the most current treatises
on the subject and includes an in depth discussion and analysis
of the most recent federal cases. With permission of the author,
the law review article has been reproduced in its entirety
on this website. Additionally, the Model Student Speaker Policies
For Public Schools which are discussed in the law review article-which
would permit, but not require, voluntary student prayer-have
also been reprinted in their entirety on this website.