Paxton's office outlines concerns over 'prayer room' in letter to Frisco ISD

Cheryl Sanders
March 21, 2017

But Muslims at Liberty High seemed to like it. "It takes five minutes instead of having to leave school, get in the vehicle, and go with my parents to the actual masjid and then coming back".

"In airports we have a chapel where people can go pray", he said.

Last week, however, top state officials learned about the room - and suddenly Liberty High had a big issue indeed.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is making national headlines after his office sent a letter to a Frisco, Texas High School inquiring about a prayer room used by students.

"Instead, it appears that the prayer room is "dedicated to the religious needs of some students" - namely, those who practice Islam", he wrote in the letter on 17 March to Liberty High School.

AUSTIN -Attorney General Ken Paxton's office, which attacked a school district for pulling down a religious Christmas decoration past year, took aim at a Dallas-area high school on Friday for operating a prayer room - for Muslims.

In response, Lyon expressed confusion after Paxton's acknowledgement that the school district is complying with state and federal laws and laws on freedom of religion. Texas Governor Greg Abbott also tweeted that the attorney general was "looking into" these concerns ― which, according to school district spokesman Chris Moore, were largely non-existent before Friday.

"It is important to note Frisco ISD is greatly concerned that this type of inflammatory rhetoric in the current climate may place the District, its students, staff, parents and community in danger of unnecessary disruption", Lyon wrote.

Paxton's first assistant attorney general, Jeff Mateer, is the former general counsel for the First Liberty Institute, a non-profit dedicated to suing to protect religious freedom.

"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.

Three months later, his eye fell on Frisco.

At issue is not Frisco's Liberty High School availing a space for students to pray, the attorney general's office wrote in a letter to the Frisco Independent School District superintendent.

It sounded like the state had been investigating the matter, but school officials said they were blindsided when reporters started calling on Friday.

"However, your letter to me begins by indicating it was written following an "initial inquiry" that "left several questions unresolved.' What initial inquiry are you referring to?" "It's a room Buddhist students, Jewish students, Catholic students, Hindu students, anyone who wants to use that room in that capacity can".

Moore said he called and emailed Paxton's office after learning about the letter, but had not received a reply. "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'". "So all we did with this letter was ask the school district for their policy, and ask them if they were inclusive or exclusive, but so far, we have not heard back".

"We hadn't been contacted by right-wing groups, left-wing groups or in-between groups", Moore said.

Regardless, he said, the room would be open for prayer as usual come lunchtime Monday - as it has for many years.

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