Nassau County School District
Dr. John L. Ruis, Superintendent of Schools
February 17, 2015 12:34 p.m.
Upon consultation with legal counsel and review of legal advisories, the Nassau County School District has taken the position that a student’s use of the phrase “God Bless America” during the morning announcements at Yulee High School does not violate the Constitution of the United States. We feel that the complaint filed on behalf of another student through the American Humanist Association should not supersede the right of other students to use the phrase, as it does not promote any religious denomination and is commonly used as an expression of patriotism.
This issue was narrowly focused on the use of the phrase during the morning announcements, which are broadcast school wide. The student was then instructed and advised to follow the scripted announcements during the broadcasts. There has certainly not been any other application to the limited open forum provided for student expression, interactions or activities at the school. In this matter, the principal’s actions were directed by the superintendent and concerns regarding the disposition of this occurrence should be directed to the superintendent.
Incidents of this nature and related complaints are presented in schools where many of us think the response is obvious. Unfortunately, the seemingly obvious response sometimes turns litigious. Regardless of any personal beliefs, we feel strongly that our duty is to protect the rights of all students and it is imperative for the school district to seek proper legal counsel on such matters before determining a path of policy and/or directive that pertains to schools throughout the district. Our intent during this process has been to weigh and seek to establish the rights for all students under our jurisdiction and authority.
We are confident in the legal counsel that our school board attorneys have provided in this circumstance. Our hope is that the phrase “God Bless America” will continue to ring in the halls of Congress, in our stadiums, in our arenas, in the halls of our schools and, most importantly, in the hearts of our children.