See You at the Flag Pole – Local constitutional violation?
Recently, there was an uproar over a recent SYATP event at the East Hanover Township Elementary School in Lebanon County.
On Saturday, September 24, we were contacted by a concerned parent in the district about such an event being held on school time. Their child was sent home a flyer, included to the right here on our site.
We contacted American Atheists, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. All three organizations, and PA Nonbelievers, sent a letter to the district advising them of multiple constitutional issues:
- The flyer indicated that the event would start DURING SCHOOL TIME.
- The flyer was distributed IN THE CLASSROOM.
- The flyer indicated that all students would attend UNLESS THEY OPTED OUT.
- The flyer indicated this event was organized by a PARENT, not a student.
The school itself addressed one of these concerns, by apparently informing its staff that the event was to start 10 minutes earlier, at 8:40am. The school day starts at 8:50am. We would like to be clear: We do not object to See You At the Flag Pole events, at least on legal grounds, that occur outside of school hours and when organized by the students.
This event did happen, and American Atheists held a protest as a response. Our own Carl Silverman was on hand to monitor the situation, we will have more information about what happened soon.
This has been covered in the press in a few articles, they are listed here:
The many comments include the following thoughtful comment from an apparently Christian pastor:
September 29th, 2011 in Activism, Church / State Separation, East Hanover Elementary SYATP, Get involved, Government, News, Press | tags: American Atheists, Americans United, Carl Silverman, Constitution, County, East Hanover, Elementary School, Freedom from Religion Foundation, Lebanon, See You At The Flag Pole, Separation of Church and State, SYATP, Township