A town hall meeting Monday night hosted by Sumner County Schools drew more than 1,200 people interested in the recent prayer controversy sparked by ongoing litigation with the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee. The ACLU filed a lawsuit in May accusing the Board of Education of promoting Christianity.

The school system held the forum at Vol State Community College in response to community backlash after a Westmoreland principal disciplined four coaches for bowing their heads at a football game and the district’s subsequent decision to bar district employees from praying at school events.

David French, senior counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which is defending Sumner County Schools in the ACLU lawsuit, led the session by giving the crowd an overview of U.S. Supreme Court decisions and federal laws protecting student rights.

French explained that while students are private citizens, they have different rights in school settings than do teachers, coaches and principals who are employees of the government.

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