ACLU criticizes Lufkin ISD for holding events in churches

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - For the second time in three months, a civil-rights organization is criticizing an East Texas school district for practices involving school activity.

This time it is aimed for Lufkin ISD, who has in the past held events at Lufkin churches.

"Holding school events in churches raises the possibility that Lufkin ISD violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by appearing to impose a religious viewpoint on the students, guests, and staff in attendance," said Lisa Graybill, Legal Director for the American Civlil Liberties Union of Texas.

In a telephone interview Wednesday, Superintendent Roy Knight said he knew the ACLU was aware of the issue, after they requested records about school activities in religious venues. But Knight said that will not be an issue anymore.

"We did it simply because we didn't have the facilities we needed," Knight said. "The churches offered their fellowship halls and rec centers and we did it because they were free for us. But now we've built the new auditorium so we're using that."

A letter from ACLU to LISD states, "Public schools may not conduct themselves with the intention to promote or favor religion."

Knight said he agrees with the statement.

"We don't hold one religious view over another," he said. "We have a strong working relationship with the religious community and those boundaries were set a long time ago and our pastors accept that. Anything we did at a church, we didn't do in the name of proselytizing."

The ACLU released a statement in March about Nacogdoches ISD and how they allowed Gideons International representatives to hand out Bibles to students.