Religion & Spirituality
The District seeks to ensure that its programs and practices are welcoming to all students regardless of their religion. As a public educational center, we believe Lower Merion School District has a basic responsibility to develop in students an understanding of their diverse history and culture and the significance of religion in that history and culture. We also have the responsibility to teach understanding of and respect for group differences in our society including religious differences. In fulfilling these responsibilities the teaching must be objective, avoid any doctrinal impact, and clearly demonstrate religious doctrines do not have the support of state authority. Such teaching must be fair and must expose a recognition of and respect for the variety and richness of humankind’s beliefs.
Moreover, the District recognizes that religion is another identity that relates to feeling a sense of belonging in school. While the District will never ask or request information about an individual’s religion, we do offer accommodations for religious observances, practices, and instruction in accordance with our policies and the law
|006||Civility||This Policy and Administrative Regulation codify the District's commitment to establish and enhance an atmosphere where people are encouraged and expected to exhibit language, attitudes and behavior that foster sound educational practices and allow people to grow socially and academically. A process for redress of concerns is also included.|
|Equal Opportunity Program for School & Classroom/Employment Practices||Policy 103 reflects the District's intent to ensure that all children have an equal opportunity to reach their potential through the educational program and not be subject to discrimination. Similarly, Policy 104 ensures that all persons have equal access to all categories of employment in the District and not be subject to discrimination. Both policies also prohibit retaliation.|
|119||Controversial and Value Issues||This Policy and Administrative Regulation affirm the Board's commitment to the incorporation into the ongoing curriculum ideas that may transcend traditional curricular topics and raise questions about current social, political, technical, philosophical, religious and other challenges, regardless of the controversial nature of the topic as long as, on divided issues, differing views are carefully presented.|
|130||Guidelines Concerning Religion||Policy and Administrative Regulation 130 confirms our commitment to acknowledging the significant role religion plays in our society globally and in the lives of our students individually. It also addresses areas where religion and public education intersect (from homework assignments to game schedules to how discussion of religion should be handled in a public education setting). See also Policy/AR 207 (Attendance).|
|235||Students Rights and Responsibilities||Policy and Administrative Regulation 235 comprehensively address student behavior expectations (and consequences) as well as student rights. Among other topics, it covers school rules, student discipline, searches, freedom of expression, etc.|
|Harassment, Bullying, and Hazing||The purpose of this Policy is to promote and maintain a safe, positive and respectful environment that is free from bullying, hazing, and harassment. In particular, the Policy and Administrative Regulation sets forth the District's prohibition of bullying, hazing and harassment based upon disability, race, color, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, ethnicity or national origin. It also articulates reporting and investigation protocols as well as prohibits retaliation. See also LMSD Policy Notification regarding Prohibited Harassment, Bullying and Other Behavior.|
|259||Gender Expansive & Transgender Students: Ensuring Equity and Nondiscrimination||Policy and Administrative Regulation 259 articulate the District's intent to ensure an inclusive and welcoming environment for all students - including, explicitly and importantly, gender expansive and transgender students - and provides related guidance to staff, students, parents/guardians and others to ensure equity and non-discrimination. See also GET Quick Reference Sheet, which provides a helpful summary of key provisions of Policy/AR 259.|
Any concerns or complaints should be reported to a building administrator as soon as possible. Please note the District's policies prohibit retaliation for bringing forward a complaint or concern.
Contact Person: Megan Shafer, Assistant to the Superintendent for District Administration (firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-645-1928).
The list below reflects a sampling of relevant District-sponsored programs, activities, and resources for students, staff, and families seeking further information regarding the intersection of religion in public schools.
Please note that the District has selected the following outside resources and information to provide additional understanding and insight to the community consistent with its policies, procedures, and strategic plan. The District does not endorse any outside entity and disclaims any responsibility for the evolving content of those sites.
- U.S. Department of Education (USDE)
- Race, Religion and National Origin Tolerance
- Title IV and Coverage of Religiously Identifiable Groups
- Religious Discrimination
- Know Your Rights: Title IV and Religion Fact Sheet
- Combating Discrimination Against Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) and Muslim, Arab, Sikh and South Asian Students (MASSA) Fact Sheet
- Combating Discrimination Against Jewish Students Fact Sheet
- Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools
- Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE)
- Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
- National Education Association (NEA)
- Religion & Ethics Newsweekly (For Educators)