Frisco ISD: Attorney General's Letter On Prayer Room Is A 'Publicity Stunt'

In a letter to the school district, Deputy Attorney General Andrew Leonie wrote that it appears that students at the high school are "being treated differently based on their religious beliefs", a violation of the First Amendment.

A Frisco ISD spokesperson told KERA the prayer room at Liberty High School has always been open to all students.

The Independent reported the Texas branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations released a statement attacking the attorney general's office, saying the "apparent lack of interest in the facts of this case would seem to confirm suspicions that the "concerns" about Muslim prayers have less to do with religious neutrality, and more to do with exploiting growing Islamophobia in our state and nationwide".

Lyon also expressed concern that the OAG letter could needlessly disrupt the learning environment at Liberty High. "Instead, it appears that the prayer room is 'dedicated to the religious needs of some students, ' namely those who practice Islam", the letter reads.

In that article, Liberty Principal Scott Warstler says, "As long as it's student-led, where the students are organizing and running it, we pretty much as a school stay out of that and allow them their freedom to practice their religion".

Paxton's office issued a press release claiming the prayer room "may violate the First Amendment's protection of religious liberty".

"The Texas Attorney General is looking into the Public School Prayer Room issue many of you have questioned", wrote Governor Abbott.

Moore said the district is trying to make contact with the attorney general's office to clarify the room is open to all.

The room is nearly exclusively used by Muslim students, Pete Hegseth said, asking Jeffress whether its existence can be taken as a double standard against Christians whose public displays of faith have been suppressed in recent years.

Lyon also chided Paxton and company for attempting to use the high school's prayer room just to whip up controversy, noting this kind of "inflammatory rhetoric in the current climate may place the district, the students, staff, parents and community in danger of unnecessary disruption". Frisco's superintendent, Dr. Jeremy Lyon, actually responded on Friday in a very terse letter calling out the OAG for a "publicity stunt".

"It gives us a way to pray in a classroom and then go straight back to class", junior Sarah Qureshi said in the Wingspan article. They could have found out that the prayer room is open for use by students of other faiths for prayer, meditation and, presumably, last-ditch pleas for help with that big trigonometry test.

In the letter to Lyon, Leonie wrote that the attorney general's "initial inquiry left several questions unresolved". Lyon asks. "To Frisco ISD's knowledge, it has not received any inquiry from the OAG on this issue".

Mr Lyon questioned Mr Paxton's claim that the Attorney General had already made an "initial enquiry" to the school which had not been addressed. "Your willingness to guarantee the freedom of student-led religious groups is laudable", the letter states, but also points out the words of the U.S. Supreme Court: "'One religious denomination can not be officially preferred over another'".

  • Larry Hoffman