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US PUBLIC MAGNET high school allows Muslims time for prayer if they earn good grades

A high school near Washington DC has taken a rare step of accommodating Muslim prayer during class hours. Parkdale High School now allows a handful of its students to be excused to pray. The decision has made some Christian staffers "unhappy".

How is this not a disruptive form of prayer?

Compared with this which isn't allowed in public schools!


 
Prayer in Public School - Overview of Governing Constitutional Principles
The history of prayer in public school is a story of legal interpretation. The relationship between religion and government in the United States is governed by the First Amendment to the Constitution, which both prevents the government from establishing religion and protects privately initiated religious expression and activities from government interference and discrimination. The First Amendment thus establishes certain limits on the conduct of public school officials as it relates to religious activity, including prayer.




Parkdale High School or PHS is a public magnet high school located at 6001 Good Luck Road, Riverdale ParkMaryland 20737. The principal is Mrs. Cheryl Logan. The September 2009 enrollment is approximately 2,172-students in grades nine through twelve. Parkdale's schools hours are from 7:45am until 2:25pm. There is a mandatory uniform policy in effect at this school. Parkdale is an International Baccalaureate (IB)magnet school and features a school-wide America's Choice School Design signature program. Charles Carroll Middle School and William Wirt Middle School feed into Parkdale.


History

Magnet Programs were first implemented in PGCPS in 1985, to fulfill a court ordered desegregation mandate. Up until as late as the late-80s, Prince George's County had been predominately white in terms of racial demographics. In order to desegregate mostly all-White schools in the school system, PGCPS created several magnet programs that eventually were instituted in over fifty schools, spread throughout the county.
By the late-1990s, the population demographics of the county had shifted towards a mostly African American majority. 


Prince George County High School Principal Cheryl J. Logan said the initiative is in response to the “needs of the growing Muslim community,” the Washington Post reported. To be able to leave class each day all you need is a parental permission and high grades, Logan said. 
Currently, about 10 Muslim students have earned the right to pray, and are reportedly allowed eight minutes each day for a joint prayer on campus. Another high school student is working hard to raise his grades to join the group, all of whom belong to Muslim Students' Association, Logan said.
It is hoped that allowing prayer will motivate Muslim students to improve their overall school performance. 
The move has already upset several of the school's Christian staffers, many of whom remember when the school was a Christian institution. US public schools are secular by law, but are legally allowed to accommodate religious students’ practices, Logan explained.
I’ve been real happy with how we've been able to deal with it without it becoming an increasingly big issue," Logan said.
But Logan’s initiative may not have a happy ending, said Charels Haynes, director of the Religious Freedom Education Project at the Newseum: "Once you start down that road then you really are in a bind." Now, any student who asks to be excused from class for religious reasons must be accommodated, Haynes told the Washington Post.  MORE

DeBakey High School for Health Professions in HoustonTexas is a magnet school specializing in medical sciences
In education in the United States, magnet schools are public schools with specialized courses or curricula. "Magnet" refers to how the schools draw students from across the normal boundaries defined by authorities (usuallyschool boards) as school zones that feed into certain schools.

In 1962, the US Supreme Court established the current prohibition on state-sponsored prayer in schools, bringing the right to freely practice one's religion into conflict with the right to not to be subjected to proselytizing.
Legally, anyone is allowed to pray in school in the US, as long as the prayers are not officially sponsored by the school and do not disrupt others. In reality, such decisions often spark heated – and sometimes legal – objections from opponents.

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