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Updated Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer and Religious Expression in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools

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Office of the General Counsel, Department of Education.


Availability of guidance.


The Department publishes updated guidance on constitutionally protected prayer and religious expression in public elementary and secondary schools, dated January 16, 2020.


January 21, 2020.

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Patrick Shaheen, U.S. Department of Education, Office of the General Counsel, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Room 6E300, Washington, DC 20202. Telephone: (202) 453-6339. Email:

If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or a text telephone (TTY), call the Federal Relay Service, toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.

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The Department publishes updated guidance, dated January 16, 2020, on constitutionally protected prayer and religious expression in public elementary and secondary schools. The purpose of this updated guidance is to provide information on the current state of the law concerning religious expression in public schools.

Section 8524(a) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act and codified at 20 U.S.C. 7904(a), requires the Secretary to issue guidance to State educational agencies (SEAs), local educational agencies (LEAs), and the public on constitutionally protected prayer in public elementary and secondary schools. In addition, section 8524(b) requires that, as a condition of receiving ESEA funds, an LEA must certify in writing to its SEA that it has no policy that prevents, or otherwise denies participation in, constitutionally protected prayer in public schools as detailed in this updated guidance.

The updated guidance is in Appendix A of this document.

Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this document in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, audiotape, or compact disc) on request to the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

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Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 7904.

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Dated: January 15, 2020.

Reed D. Rubinstein,

Principal Deputy General Counsel, delegated the Duties and Authority of the General Counsel.

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[FR Doc. 2020-00876 Filed 1-16-20; 8:45 am]