The Morehouse Parish School System will host a Town Hall meeting at 6 p.m. Aug. 9 in the courtroom of Bastrop City Hall.
School Superintendent Dr. George Noflin will introduce each school's administration as well as discuss the impact House Bill No. 660 regarding prayer in schools will have on the parish. This bill, which was introduced by District 16 Representative Katrina R. Jackson (D), was signed into law by Gov. Bobby Jindal on July 2, 2013. It provides for policies, procedures and programs relative to school prayer, the pledge of allegiance and instruction regarding the pilgrim fathers and the U.S. flag in certain school districts. The bill requires the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to establish a policy and develop procedures to allow public school students to participate in the recitation of the Lord's Prayer and the "Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag" at the commencement of each school day. Such policy and procedures shall include but not be limited to provisions for the following: 1.(1) Student participation in the recitation of the prayer and pledge shall be voluntary. 2.(2) Students shall be reminded that the Lord's Prayer is the prayer that the pilgrim fathers recited when they came to America in search for freedom. 3.(3) Students shall be informed that these exercises are not meant to influence an individual's personal religious beliefs in any manner. 4.(4) The recitations shall be conducted so that students learn of America's great freedoms, including the freedom of religion symbolized by the recitation of the Lord's Prayer. BESE is required to develop a program of instruction for public schools with regard to the pilgrim fathers and a program with regard to the flag of the United States of America, the latter to include instruction in etiquette, the correct use and display of the flag and other patriotic exercises as may be related. The bill also permits local school boards to purchase or otherwise acquire and provide for display in each classroom copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address and other documents the local board deems significant to the history of Louisiana and the U.S. In addition, it provides that proposed law shall apply only to public schools located in a school district where the matters proposed in proposed law have been approved by at least 2/3 of the qualified electors voting on the proposition in the district. It authorizes school boards to provide for putting a proposition on the ballot containing the matters proposed in proposed law and provides that upon such approval, the local superintendent of the school district shall provide notification and verification of such approval to BESE. The public is invited to attend the Town Hall meeting.