Constitutionally Protected Prayer in Public Schools
Public school districts must afford staff and students the right to constitutionally protected prayer. Pursuant to Section 8524(b) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA):
- By October 1st annually, each school district that participates in an ESEA program must certify in writing to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) that no policy of the school district prevents, or otherwise denies participation in, constitutionally protected prayer in public elementary and secondary schools as detailed in Part II of federal guidance.
- By November 1st annually, ISBE must send to the United States Department of Education (ED) a list of those school districts that have not filed the required certification or that have been the subject of a complaint to ISBE alleging that the school district has a policy that prevents, or otherwise denies participation in, constitutionally protected prayer in public elementary and secondary schools.
- ISBE must provide a process for filing a complaint against a school district that allegedly denies a person, including a student or employee, the right to participate in constitutionally protected prayer. To the extent ISBE has notice of a public legal charge or complaint such as a lawsuit filed against a school district, alleging that the school district denied a person the right to participate in constitutionally protected prayer, ISBE must report the complaint to ED. ISBE must report all complaints that are filed through this complaint process, including complaints that ISBE may deem meritless, to ED.
In order to file a complaint to ISBE regarding an alleged violation of constitutionally protected prayer, an individual may complete ISBE’s Constitutionally Protected Prayer Complaint Form and email the completed document to firstname.lastname@example.org. ISBE staff will contact the complainant within three (3) business days to confirm receipt. Each case will be thoroughly reviewed and investigated.