Religion in Schools
Every year, tens of thousands of parents from diverse backgrounds entrust the education and well-being of their children to the Austin Independent School District. For this reason, everyone involved in the education of children—teachers, students, administrators, staff, parents and the community—needs to understand the role of religion in public schools. That role is delineated by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of Grievances. U.S. Const. amend. I.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution forbids both establishment of a state-endorsed religion and interference with free exercise of an individually chosen religion. Because of this, public schools may neither support nor denigrate any religion.
Austin ISD Policy
It is the policy of the Austin Independent School District not to allow any activity or action that would give the appearance of school support or endorsement of religion in general or of a specific religion, and to support, as far as is reasonable, the free, private exercise of individual religious beliefs by students and staff.
The purpose of the District's policies is to convey the District's deep and abiding respect for the beliefs of all of its students and staff. Because the District serves students of every creed and none, it must never appear to coerce students toward any particular belief.
The Religion in Schools Handbook provides information meant to foster understanding, tolerance, respect, and appreciation for Austin's diverse population. It is also intended to be a reference for instructors and administrators as well as a guide for community groups who want to understand the necessary limits of the role of religion in public education.
The District's staff and students are expected to treat other students and staff alike with respect for and sensitivity to individual beliefs. With everyone's efforts, a positive and productive atmosphere can be cultivated where everyone can appreciate the exciting opportunities offered by classroom diversity and thrive by building on the strength of our differences.