***Update***: The school issued a response regarding the religious ceremony:
1. The baccalaureate ceremony is a privately sponsored religious event. The Tamaqua Area School District is not and will not be involved in or associated with the baccalaureate ceremony and does not or will not endorse the ceremony in any way.
2. As a public school entity, the Tamaqua Area School District does not or will not require any student to attend the baccalaureate ceremony.
3. The Tamaqua Area School District may not and will not provide any information regarding the date, time, location or content of the baccalaureate ceremony to the students. Such information may be provided to parents, employees or public upon specific request.
4. In their official capacity, Tamaqua Area School District employees are prohibited from participating in the baccalaureate ceremony.
5. Tamaqua Area School District employees are not required to attend the baccalaureate ceremony and will not be required to attend the ceremony in the future.
In Tamaqua, PA, senior Ryan Miorelli is a class officer at a public high school and he was told to attend Baccalaureate, a religious ceremony.
He said he wasn’t going.
A class officer, Miorelli said he wasn’t attending Baccalaureate. The staff member reportedly told him he would be stripped of his office if he didn’t attend. And internal school documents show the high school principal, RuthAnn Gardiner, supported that decision.
Miorelli called the ACLU and received immediate representation in the matter.
The ACLU first sent a letter of legal demand to the district. The documents, obtained by the I-Team, show the ACLU required the district to formally distance itself from Baccalaureate services, since they were religious in nature.
… Miorelli said he was taking heat over his decision, again, to stay clear of the church. He said things heated up after he discovered nomination petitions for class officers included language that required anyone elected to class office attend Baccalaureate.
How is the school responding to Miorelli and the ACLU?
They’re claiming it was all just one big mistake…
School Board President Larry Wittig said the nominating petition using the language that students were “required” to attend was an error, a typo.
Miorelli didn’t attend the ceremony. But the ceremony did occur, breaking the law.
The Tamaqua Area School District is just asking for a lawsuit.
It would be wonderful poetic justice if it was one of the district’s own graduates who came back to sue the district one day…
(Thanks to Justin for the link!)