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WDMCS Response to Separation of Church and State Concerns

West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) received written concerns from parents last week regarding the role WDMCS volunteer Chris Barr has with the Valley High School football team as a self-described chaplain, in light of laws regarding religion in public schools. Based on legal counsel, he was told to temporarily refrain from this activity while we reviewed the concerns.

Based on our review and guidance from legal counsel, it is necessary for District administration to work with the athletic director and coaches to determine and make appropriate changes.

Student-led gatherings continue to be protected in accordance with law, including prayer or other religious activities. We will also continue to work with all student activities/clubs, including the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), to ensure meetings are student-led and provide equal access to all students.

As a public school district, we must remain neutral when it comes to a particular religion or religion in general. We are committed to protecting the best interests of all students and families by responding to concerns and adjusting any past practice as needed, so that we can provide the best learning environment possible.

Lisa Remy, Ed.D.
West Des Moines Community Schools