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ICC Note: As previously reported, an employee at a school in Maine was recently reprimanded for offering to pray for a coworker who also attends her church. In a move that caused great backlash, the school stated that the employee’s actions were “not acceptable” and that employees should make “no reference to [their] spiritual or religious beliefs.” However, the school has since updated the memo to allow faith-based expressions as long as they are not within hearing range of students.

By Heather Clark

11/25/2017 Untied States (Christian News Network) – A school board in Maine has agreed to uphold the rights of a special education technician after she was initially reprimanded for telling a coworker, who is a member of her church, that she would pray for him.

According to the First Liberty Institute, which represented Toni Richardson in an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC) complaint in May, the Augusta School Department has now issued Richardson an “updated memorandum acknowledging [her] protected First Amendment right to privately discuss religion among her coworkers.”

“Comments such as ‘God bless you’ or ‘I am praying for you’ are permissible when made to co-workers outside of the hearing of students,” the memo reads, noting that school employees have a right “to express religious beliefs or use faith-based language at school.”

As previously reported, Richardson had previously received a coaching memorandum warning that she could face disciplinary action or dismissal if she again told a frustrated coworker who attends her church “I will pray for you” or “You were in my prayers.”

“Stating ‘I will pray for you’ and ‘You were in my prayers’ is not acceptable—even if that other person attends the same church as you,” it read.

“[I]n the future, it is imperative you do not use phrases that integrate public and private belief systems when in the public schools,” the memo stated. “Going forward, I expect when you disagree with a staff member, you will address it in a discreet and professional manner with no reference to your spiritual or religious beliefs.”


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