Does 1-7 v. Round Rock Independent School District

Last modified 2011.09.15

  • Status Closed
  • Type Counsel
  • Court U.S. District Court
  • Issues Public Schools, Religious Minorities

The Round Rock Independent School District in Texas had a policy that allowed schools to “permit the graduating senior class(es) . . . to select student volunteers to deliver nonsectarian, nonproselytizing invocations and benedictions for the purpose of solemnizing their graduation ceremonies.” In May 2007, some students, parents, and school officials complained that the District’s four high schools were not planning to include an invocation as part of graduation ceremonies that year. In response, the District ordered its four senior classes to vote on whether to have prayer. All but one of the senior classes voted for prayer. After extensive review and editing of the prayers by the School District’s attorney and officials, a prayer was delivered at the graduation ceremony of each of three high schools.

We filed suit against the District on August 20, 2007, on behalf of six parents of students in the District and one 2007 graduate, all proceeding anonymously. The Complaint alleged that the student votes on prayer ran afoul of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe. On September 7, 2007, the District filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that the District’s actions were constitutional under the Fifth Circuit’s 1992 ruling in Jones v. Clear Creek Independent School District, which upheld a similar policy, but which we contended was overruled by the 2000 decision in Santa Fe.

On December 21, 2007, the District Court issued a published opinion that rejected the District’s request to dismiss the case, holding that Santa Fe had indeed overruled Jones. The District Court did, however, dismiss some of the plaintiffs’ claims on the grounds that they were moot or premature.

In February 2008, we entered into a settlement agreement with the School District that forbids the District from holding any election or vote by students to have a prayer, benediction, invocation, or other religious communication in any graduation ceremony unless the U.S. Supreme Court or the Fifth Circuit rules in a future case that such votes can be held. The case has thus concluded.

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