Aug 16, 2013 7:29 PM by Akeam Ashford
A new law now allows public school students the opportunity to hold prayer meetings at school without the need for a faculty member to be present.
According to the law, students can initiate prayer meetings outside class hours. Students can hold those meetings before school, during recess, or after school.
The law also allows students the opportunity to use classrooms, auditoriums, or other spaces at their school.
Lafayette Parish Schools Superintendent, Dr. Pat Cooper says he will provide students every opportunity to hold prayer meetings.
"I just don't think you can separate that part of life, or you should separate that part of life. There's a lot of lead-way there and I'm going to encourage it," says Cooper.
ACLU Executive Director Marjorie Esman doesn't see it the same way. She thinks the law itself is flawed, giving preference to religious organizations because it allows the students to gather without a faculty representative as required for other groups.
"It may be that the legislators were aware that that's what it did, and it may be that they weren't aware." says Esman. "I don't know, but in fact it does provide that preference and for that reason it should not have passed."
Taking it a step further, Cooper will propose his version of Adopt-A-Street to the school board this year. The idea is that churches will adopt a classroom and provide mentors in schools. Cooper has Pastor Carlos Harvin heading up that project.
"We, as faith-based leaders, pastors, and ministers, we have a new understanding of how we can partner with the public school system to help children graduate on time, to help them stop truancy, to help them even with early childhood education," says Harvin.