School board meetings of Glenbard High School District 87 have been crowded lately. Residents of the affluent Chicago suburb of Glen Ellyn are concerned with the board’s intent to formulate comprehensive policy guidelines that would guarantee “religious neutrality” in the district’s four high schools. If passed, the guidelines probably would discontinue the presence of student evangelism groups like Young Life and Campus Life on the schools’ campuses, even though acting school superintendent Ray Livingston says “relations have been good” between those groups and the district.
As prepared by school board attorney Allen Schwartz, the policies would ban such things as prayer before school convocations, certain religious symbols such as the cross at Christmastime, and more or less anything that might be deemed “devotional activity.”
David Eblen, special services coordinator for the school district, commented, “We’ve found virtually no school districts with a policy as significant as this … we’ve checked all over.” The policy drafts—which some observers believe may set national precedents for constitutional freedom of religion and separation of church and state issues—also have created confusion. Robert Elliott, principal of the 2,000-student Glenbard West High School, where the controversy in the district has focused, asserts that present school visitation policies at his school fall within legal boundaries. The Glenbard situation, similar to other public school church-state controversies, is still to be resolved:
• A federal district court judge in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is considering the legality of singing Christmas carols in the city’s public schools.
• The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review a federal district court ruling ...1
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