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FRISCO (CBS11) – Frisco ISD’s superintendent is accusing the Texas Attorney General’s Office of engaging in a “publicity stunt” after it send the district a letter questioning the legality of an on campus prayer room.
The room at Liberty High School is available to students for prayer or meditation five days a week for half an hour, when it’s not being used for class.
It is primarily utilized by Muslim students, whose religion requires they pray at five specific times every day.
“It’s not a prayer room. It’s just somebody’s classroom,” said one student, who asked we not share her name.
She said students on campus are all respectful of each other’s religions, and she’s never heard anyone complain before now.
“I don’t understand why this would suddenly be a big… if students don’t have a problem with it, why do other people?”
In a letter to Frisco ISD, the Attorney General’s Office wrote, “It appears that students are being treated differently based on their religious beliefs.
It asked that the room be made “accessible to students of all religious denominations.”
The district insists, it already is.
“There are 2100 students at Liberty High School and all 2100 can access that room,” said Frisco ISD spokesperson Chris Moore.
The school first made the room available seven years ago, after the principal noticed Muslim students left for an hour every Friday, the holiest day of their week, for mandatory afternoon prayer at their mosque.
Today, they are able to stay and hold their prayer on campus.
“Sometimes there will be other students in there praying,” said Moore.
Attorney David Coale says the school may still be on shaky ground legally by making special accommodations for religious students over those who don’t practice any religion.
“The Constitution doesn’t let you take a public place such as a school and turn it into a church of any kind,” said Coale.
In response to the AG’s office, though, the superintendent accused it of politicizing a “non-issue.”
“This type of inflammatory rhetoric in the current climate may place the district, its students, staff, parents, and community in danger of unnecessary disruption,” he wrote.
The AG’s office issued a news release, in conjunction with the letter and both the Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted links to a story about the prayer room.
“The Texas Attorney General is looking into the Public School Prayer Room issue many of you have questioned,” wrote Governor Abbott.
The district says it has never received any complaints about the room or had any communication with the AG’s office about it.
The superintendent has requested the state turn over any complaints it has and any evidence of students not being allowed to access the room for their religious practices.