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Ector County ISD Graduation Changes

The sudden change comes after complaints were made by a national group advocating the separation of church and state.
ODESSA, TX (Local Big 2 News) --

It's graduation season, but Ector County Independent School District's graduation ceremonies will be different from years past. The sudden change comes after complaints were made by a national group advocating the separation of church and state.

"The reason our country was founded was for religious freedom," said concerned citizen Martha Fox.

Devout Christian Martha Fox is a firm believer in freedom of speech, and she believes it's being taken away from students in Ector County Independent School District.

"I don't understand why people are so afraid of prayer in a public place," said Fox.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, accused the district of violating state law with public prayer during its graduation ceremonies.

In the past, each ceremony began with an invocation and ended with benediction, the groups says that is endorsing religion. The group's complaints prompted the school district to review its policies and administrators found they did not meet policy standards.

"How do we come into compliance with what the board policy calls for as well as what the law calls for but at the same time allow students to have their freedom," said Superintendent Thomas Crowe.

Administrators tell us, in the past, each senior class also voted on whether or not to pray during the ceremony. But now Superintendent Thomas Crowe says, this vote is being eliminated.

"The law and the board policy says there can not be an election to determine whether you're going to have a prayer or not," said Crowe.

The changes do not sit well with Fox.

"They're just praying," said Fox.

Crowe tells me of one other change to future commencements, from now on, student speakers will be randomly selected and the choice to pray will be their's.

"If they come up to us and say, well, can we pray, we say, it's up to you," said Crowe.
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