The degree to which public schools should accommodate the religious beliefs of students, especially the growing number of Muslim students, is very much an open question. But I’m pretty sure this policy in a Maryland school would be found unconstitutional by a court if challenged:
But a Prince George’s County high school principal believes she has found a way to accommodate Muslim students: She gives those with parental permission and high grades a pass out of class every day to pray.
At Parkdale High School, about 10 Muslim students get out of class for about eight minutes each day to pray together on campus, said Principal Cheryl J. Logan. Another student is working hard to raise his grades so he too can join the group of students, who belong to the school’s chapter of the Muslim Students’ Association, she said.
I can’t imagine this would pass constitutional muster. The school should either accommodate the Muslim prayers or not; they can’t condition that accommodation on some other behavior that isn’t related to the issue. If the accommodation is reasonable under the Free Exercise clause, it’s reasonable for all Muslim students, not just the ones with a certain grade point average.
And this part of the article is rather disturbing:
When Muslim students began praying during the school day at Parkdale, she said, some Christian teachers got upset and told the students that “it was a Christian school.”
Those teachers should have been disciplined for that very, very clear violation of the law. I doubt they were.