Another document dump on Moore County Schools prayer kerfluffle

v2_religiousfreedombutton_350x219We previously posted HERE and HERE about what looked like an attempt to harass school employees about their religious beliefs and practices. Now, we’re learning more, courtesy of superintendent Bob Grimesey:

[…] Attached find the complete set of documents that was provided to each secondary principal, the purpose of which was to provide guidance for their interviews with specified staff members.  Each principal was provided with one set.  As I stated previously, and as clearly indicated in the instructions, the forms were to be used by the principal to interview specified employees.  While it is not explicit, the intent was that each interview be conducted in confidence for the purpose of assessing our compliance with school board policy and with the guidelines that legal counsel provided last year.  Despite the fact that the instructions were clear that principals were to use the questions to interview the selected employees, about half of the principals made copies of the questionnaires and distributed them.  To be fair, there was no explicit caution to avoid such an approach.  And that is where the breakdown occurred.  That also is where I must assume full responsibility.  As such, I have judged this to be a process error for which no one is to blame but me.  We will learn from this error and do everything in our power to avoid any such oversight in the future.

No questionnaires were ever distributed to students, nor was any such distribution ever considered.  Furthermore, the process was NOT intende2013-07IndependenceDayCartoonColord to identify and consider disciplinary action against any employee.  And since any such disciplinary action would ultimately need to be authorized by me, it is safe to conclude that my intentions are substantive to any judgment of this process.  There were three leading questions.  A “no” answer to any one of those questions would preclude the need for any of the other questions to be asked.  Moreover, a “yes” response to any of the three leading questions would not require that all follow-up questions be asked.  Principals were simply provided with a variety of options for follow-up questions and advised to be as specific as possible so that we could gain an accurate understanding of our employees’ understanding and our school district’s legal risk.  Most importantly, we needed to assess the degree to which our students were free of any unlawful, unethical or inappropriate religious coercion or persuasion, be it subtle or overt.  This entire endeavor was intended to ensure our students’ religious liberty, and I stand by that intent.
I am aware of no other documents associated with this matter.  You now have everything that our staff has.  I hope the documents and my explanation are helpful.  As always, I welcome your further questions.  – Bob […]

Here is what Grimesey’s office IDs as the original document sent to school administrators.  Here is what is stated as the reason for pursuing this little venture:

[…] Last year, the school system received a formal complaint from an attorney for an advocacy group about a prayer at a Moore County bigbrotherSchools athletic event. Dr. Grimesey asked the school system attorneys for legal guidance, and they provided a memorandum that was distributed to schools. Since that time, there have been ongoing reports of employees participating in prayers with students at athletic events and possibly other school events as well. I need to gather information about whether and when this is occurring to report back to Dr. Porter so that he, Dr. Grimesey, and the school system’s attorneys can ensure that the school system is not violating laws regarding the separation of church and state. It is important that I get accurate information so that the attorneys can give appropriate advice to Dr. Porter and Dr. Grimesey.[…]

Interesting.  While Grimesey and the author of the linked document stress that the scope of inquiry was strictly limited to principals, assistant principals, athletic directors, and coaches, several of the questions in the document appear to encourage informing on other school system employees.