School board rejects student request for public prayer; student plans to sue

A 17-year-old student plans to sue the Arab City School Board after they rejected his request to lead a public prayer at a football game.

Posted: Oct 31, 2018 8:51 PM
Updated: Nov 1, 2018 9:35 AM

Ian Davis got a letter from Arab City Schools superintendent John Mullins Wednesday afternoon. It was a rejection letter informing Davis he can't lead a public prayer at Friday night's home football game.

"I was feeling, you know, defeated," Davis said.

In the letter, the superintendent cites Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe as the reason behind the board's decision. The decision, made in the year 2000, effectively banned pregame prayer in a 6-3 vote. Only three of those justices still sit on the nation's highest court. Justice Clarence Thomas is the only dissenting justice still there.

"I knew since this decision was made, what the ultimatum would be, which would be the class action lawsuit," Davis said.

Davis told WAAY 31 he and fourteen other Arab citizens plan to file a class action lawsuit against the Arab City Schools Board of Education in the next month or two. Davis said he thinks they'll win in court because the United States Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Davis also said that the recent appointment of Brett Kavanaugh, tipping the Supreme Court's balance toward conservatives, could help their case. Kavanaugh has argued for student-led prayers in the past.

"I didn't want to do anything to my school board, but if we're having to go to these lengths to get students' freedom of speech back and freedom of religion back, that's pretty ridiculous," Davis said.

Davis said he will obey the school board's decision and not try to lead a public prayer at the football game, but he isn't done making requests.

"At graduation, I plan on praying as well. Until then, I plan to empower student organizations. I plan to make an impact among my student body, and try my best to unify us," Davis said.

WAAY 31 reached out to the Arab City School Board several times for comment, but we haven't heard back.

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