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IKD     Religion in Curricular or School Sponsored Activities   
        The policy of the district with respect to matters of religion is that the district is neutral. This policy is designed to provide overall guidance as well as specific guidelines to meet policy objectives.

        There shall be no preference shown for any one religion.  Also, there shall be no preference of religion over non-religion or non-religion over religion.  The district's policy does not mean indifference.  It supports teaching about religion in the context of the district's curriculum, but not the sponsorship of the practice of religion.

       The district may offer instruction about religions and the role and influence of religion in history, literature, art, music, science or any other area of study in which religion has played a role, but at no time shall any religion or any non-religion be promoted. It is essential that teachers deal with religion honestly, objectively, fairly and forthrightly in the interest of education that will produce informed and tolerant individuals.

       The district's policy of being neutral with respect to matters of religion is to be applied through its educational programs in such a way that:

  • A student shall not be singled out on the basis of religion or the lack of a religion.
  • There shall be neither imposition of any particular view nor celebration of any particular religious holidays.
       When religion is included in the curriculum, the focus shall be on the study of what people believe, but must not be on teaching a student what to
believe.  The purpose is to educate, not convert.  The instruction is academic, not devotional or preferential.

       Tolerance of various religious beliefs is to be encouraged to enhance understanding that tolerance is an important aspect of a pluralistic and democratic society. The following guidelines are designed to provide further specific help to insure that the policy's objectives are met.

       The curriculum, when appropriate, shall include objectives regarding the role religion has played in the development of various countries, cultures, movements, customs, traditions, and values.  Course review and selection of materials shall take into consideration the appropriateness relative to these areas.  Where there are not adequate materials available, supplementary teaching materials will be developed and made available to teaching personnel.

       In determining all course content and curriculum, care and sensitivity shall be shown for the religious or non-religious beliefs, age, attitudes and feelings of students.  Also, special attention shall be given to the developmental differences between elementary and secondary students.  The decision to include - or exclude - religious material from the curriculum must be based on academic, not religious, reasons. Materials shall not be added or deleted just because they do not conform to a given religious view.  Materials shall be presented objectively.

       Students shall have the right to express their views about religions or religious activities in an open, honest, and responsible manner.  Such expressions shall be conducted in a manner that reflects an attitude of tolerance and respect for others whose beliefs may differ from those of the speaker.  Furthermore, such discussion must maintain educational values as its focus.

        A musical program prepared for or presented by the school shall not be a religious celebration or part of a religious celebration.  The study of religious music as a part of a music curriculum or as part of a study of various lands and cultures is proper and permitted.  When the study of religious music is included in the curriculum, the curriculum shall also contain a balance of secular music within the course of the year.

       None of the following shall be sponsored by schools:

  • A worship ceremony of any kind.
  • The non-instructional display of religious symbols of any kind or of symbols connected with a religious holiday (including but not limited to any object of worship, crosses, crucifixes, Nativity scenes, menorahs, Stars of David, Islamic Crescents, Christmas trees, etc.).  This is not intended to restrict personal religious jewelry.
  • The presentation of religious drama or performance as part of a religious observance.  
  • Religious holiday observances or celebrations.
        A pupil's absence from school for religious holidays shall be recognized as an excused absence.  The district will respect and be sensitive to the customary religious practices of students enrolled in its schools.  However, as with any excused absence, it is the responsibility of the parent or student to communicate with the teacher, coach or principal when religious activities will interfere with attendance at school or school activities or when school activities conflict with the religious beliefs of the child.

       As with all excused absences, students shall have the right to make up missed work within reasonable timelines.  Excused absences cover extracurricular and co-curricular activities as well as classroom requirements.  Excused absences shall mean that the student will not be penalized as a result of the student missing a school-sponsored activity.

       The scheduling of special events for students and school-related programs for parents is to be avoided on major religious holidays, if possible. For purposes of administering this policy, special events are those that have school-wide involvement.

Approved:  July 1, 2001
Reviewed by Board Policy Committee:  March 1, 2004
Amended:  November 14, 2005
Reviewed by Board Policy Committee:  January 16, 2007
Amended:  March 12, 2007
Reviewed by Board Policy Committee:  March 24, 2010