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President Donald Trump is marking National Religious Freedom Day with a ceremony at the White House on Thursday and is also issuing a guidance letter to educational institutions and the public on students’ Constitutional right to prayer.
The guidance will be posted in the Federal Register on January 21, 2020 and it states, in part:
Section - Elementary - Secondary - Education - Act
Section 8524(a) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act and codified at 20 U.S.C. 7904(a), requires the Secretary to issue guidance to State educational agencies (SEAs), local educational agencies (LEAs), and the public on constitutionally protected prayer in public elementary and secondary schools. In addition, section 8524(b) requires that, as a condition of receiving ESEA funds, an LEA must certify in writing to its SEA that it has no policy that prevents, or otherwise denies participation in, constitutionally protected prayer in public schools as detailed in this updated guidance.
Education Week’s report on the guidance noted precedent for the Trump administration’s move:
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The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, in its current and past versions, requires the U.S. Department of Education to provide guidance on prayer in schools every two years, but that guidance hasn’t been updated since 2003, a senior administration official said.
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