SUSQUEHANNA TOWNSHIP SCHOO DISTRICT
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17109
RELIGIOUS ACTIVITIES, PRACTICES AND OBSERVANCES IN THE SCHOOL PROGRAM
The Susquehanna Township School District, in recognition of the diversity of its student population, has established this policy, whereby all pupils and staff members are encouraged to appreciate and be tolerant of the religious views of all segments of the school community.
The school district shall, when feasible, promote understanding and mutual respect among students, parents and staff members relative to racial, cultural, religious and economic diversity. It is understood that neither the school district, nor its employees or representatives, shall promote or disparage a religious belief or non-belief. Students and staff members may be excused from participating in non-routine educational activities, which are contrary to their religious beliefs. The school district will provide “reasonable accommodation” pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to any staff member or student for absence from school relative to recognized days requiring a religious observance or the fulfillment of an expected obligation. Employees shall be entitled to utilize accumulated personal days, as defined under Article XII Section 3 of the negotiated agreement for the fulfillment of specified religious observances and/or obligations.
The Susquehanna Township School District shall comply with all requirements of law governing the subject matter of this policy, including the Federal Access Act, and other such requirements that exist from time to time.
The following guidelines have been promulgated by the Susquehanna Township School District as related to the denoted components of the school program.
- Observance of Holidays
The practice of the Susquehanna Township School District concerning the observance of religious holidays shall be as follows:
- The several holidays, during the school term, posted in religious and secular traditions may be observed in the buildings.
- The origin of religious holidays, including their historical, cultural and contemporary characteristics, may be explained in an objective, non-sectarian manner.
- Music, art, literature, and drama having religious themes are permitted for inclusion in school programs, if presented in a prudent and objective manner, with primary emphasis on the tradition and heritage of the holiday.
- Religious symbols may be displayed on a temporary basis as part of an academic program. Students may exercise freedom in creating artwork reflecting religious symbolism. Teachers should refrain from encouraging or discouraging such creations.
- An effort should be made, when developing the school district calendar, to minimize conflicts with religious holidays of all faiths.
- Holiday programs should be planned so as to minimize intrusion into the instructional program.
- Religion in the Curriculum
The practice of the Susquehanna Township School District concerning the inclusion of religious material in the curriculum shall be as follows:
- The significance of religion in the musical, artistic, literary and architectural heritage of the human experience, requires the inclusion of religious references in the educational process. Excluding any and all reference to religion would create a void in a student’s academic experience.
- The teaching about, and not of, religion shall be conducted in a factual, objective, and respectful manner and will be appropriate to the age/grade level of the students.
- The approach to religion shall be academic, not devotional.
- A singular religious perspective shall not be promoted, sponsored or imposed upon the students.
- Ceremonies and Recognitions
Susquehanna Township School District is committed to maintaining those traditions that have become significant in the life of the community. Accordingly, the practice of the school district shall be as follows:
- Traditions associated with commencement exercises, such as invocation and benediction should be honored in the spirit of accommodation and good taste. These traditional activities shall recognize the religious pluralism of the community in the spirit of accommodation, sensitivity and good taste.
- Other ceremonies and recognitions will be non-religious and focus upon the educational purpose of the ceremony or recognition.
Questions relative to the interpretation of the policy shall be forwarded through the existing levels of administrative supervision to the Superintendent. Upon receipt of such a question, the Superintendent will make an appropriate decision and give direction in an expeditious manner.
Approved by the School Board – January 13, 1992