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Legal Features

See You at the Pole

In 1992, students at a middle school and a high school in Corpus Christi, Texas, assembled one morning at 7:00 a.m. at their respective schools' flagpoles to pray for their fellow students, their teachers and their school. Upon their arrival at the poles, the students were met by school administrators, who threatened the students with disciplinary action if they did not disperse. The administrators told the students that their attempts to meet were illegal due to school policy and the religious nature of the rallies.

With the assistance of The Rutherford Institute, sixteen students and their parents joined to sue the school district for violating their rights to free speech, assembly and religious expression under the U.S. and Texas Constitutions. While the case settled prior to trial, the school agreed not to restrict students' rights to speech, expression and assembly in the future, particularly as such restrictions would adversely affect participation in "See You at the Pole" rallies.

Since that time, "See You at the Pole" events have become more widespread and an important celebration and demonstration for people of faith who attend public schools. But the spread of this event, like other attempts at religious expression in public schools, has been met with resistance from school administrators who cling to the outdated notion that religious expression on school grounds must be forbidden. The reality is that religious assembly and expression must be allowed on school property to the same extent that expression with other viewpoints is allowed.

Students, parents, teachers and school administrators should understand their legal rights and responsibilities, as explained in this article, with respect to speech on school grounds so that all persons can enjoy the fundamental liberties enshrined in the Constitution.

Click here to download The Rutherford Institute's See You At The Pole guidelines.

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