Saturday, May 08, 2010

Prayer Win in Lawsuit Against Calif. College

A lawsuit against a California college that threatened to suspend a student caught offering a prayer for a sick teacher – and another student who happened to be nearby – has been settled with a college admission that prayer is allowed on campus.

-- From "College students who pray won't be punished" by Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer 5/7/10

An East Bay community college district has agreed to respect students' freedom of religious expression in settling a lawsuit filed by two women who were threatened with suspension after one of them prayed with an ailing teacher in an office at the College of Alameda.

In the settlement, announced this week, the four-campus Peralta Community College District recognized the right to "non-disruptively pray on campus." The district also agreed to remove all records of disciplinary action against the students and pay their attorneys' fees, said Kevin Snider, a lawyer with the Pacific Justice Institute, which represented the students.

Students still won't be allowed to lead organized prayers in class, but can pray in other campus locations "to the same extent that they may engage in any other free speech," Snider said.

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From "College backtracks on discipline for prayer" by Bob Unruh © 2010 WorldNetDaily 5/7/10

The announcement comes from Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, which worked on the case on behalf of the students, Kandy Kyriacou and Ojoma Omaga.

The case against the College of Alameda was brought after the school threatened the students with expulsion after Kyriacou was spotted by another faculty member praying with the teacher.

The incident developed in December 2007 when an instructor at the college complained about a private, consensual prayer in a shared faculty office between a student and a sick teacher.

The institution issued formal notices of intent to suspend both the student and a bystander, held disciplinary hearings and imposed written warnings.

Pacific Justice Institute staff attorney Matthew McReynolds sent multiple demand letters advising the college of the students' rights, but the administration declined to respond. A lawsuit then was filed in federal court against the institution.

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