Teacher Fired over Prayer Gets Job Back

By: Ashley Conroy Email
By: Ashley Conroy Email

Algebra teacher, Alice Hawley, had also been fired for the same reason in the early 1990s.

Around the same time, in November 1993, former Wingfield High School principal, Bishop Knox, was fired for similar reasons.

He allowed a student to read a prayer over the intercom to the entire school.

The prayer read: "Almighty God, we ask that you bless our parents, teachers and country throughout the day. In your name we pray. Amen."

Knox was reinstated as a principal shortly after being fired. He received national media attention, appeared on talk shows and was scrutinized for his "unconstitutionality" for allowing prayer in school.

When asked if he regretted his decision, his response was: "Well, a man can't regret a right decision, at least I can't. And the decision that I made was the right decision."

Meanwhile, Hawley was also asked to come back to the school after being fired the first time. However, it wasn't until several years later.

Fast forward to 2010, and she was asked to come back the next day.

Several graduates of Franklin High and former students spoke in support of Hawley, but also stressed the need for more prayer in the public school system.

"We need to have prayer in our schools. Whether it's student lead, teacher lead, whatever lead, it needs to be in our schools," said Franklin High graduate, Caleb Lehmann.

Carmen Wilkinson is a former student of Hawley's, in the early 1990s. She attributes her faith to what she learned from Hawley more so than what she learned from church.

"She taught me more about God's word than really I learned in church," said Wilkinson.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1962 that schools do not have the right to enforce prayer upon students.

In Mississippi, state statute says that student voluntary initiated prayer is allowed.

Many current students at Franklin High School say they engage in voluntary prayer all the time.

Student Kristie Wallace says students will pray in the mornings before class and even sometimes during the lunch hour.

Former Hawley students say she always gave her class the option to participate in prayer or not.

Hawley herself says she's never received any objections from her students. Hawley is glad to have her job back, but to her, knows the challenge isn't over.

"The real victory will come when we can go in and freely pray, as we want to, as the children want to," said Hawley. "That's when the real victory comes."

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  • by Prayer is needed in our schools Location: meridian on Jun 5, 2010 at 08:30 PM
    What happened to "One Nation under GOD"? We as a nation began failing our children when we stopped allowing prayer in school. Today's children are so disrespectful to themselves, their peers, and administrators...many are even disrespectful to their own parents and grandparents. Something needs to be done to bring GOD back into the picture; otherwise we will only get worse not better.
  • by Anonymous on Jun 2, 2010 at 09:26 AM
    oh yeah Fred.. cant believe in what we want cant put up a private displays because it offends someone.. called life get over it... you dont like someone in prayer leave.. since the bible and control been taken out of the public we as a nation has slipped in to a quagmire
  • by mrs. c. sorrell Location: chicago on May 30, 2010 at 04:00 PM
    prayer should never have been stopped, gods shed blood should be covering each and every school in the world , we need and should be praying for these young people the devil is busy, but we need to pray for these young people and plead the blood of jesus, isaiah 54:17.god is the only true living god.
  • by RR Location: lauderdale county on May 30, 2010 at 06:35 AM
    Wow when I went to school we had a devotional and the pledge of allegiance every morning before class started.Nobody complained and everyone seemed happy.What a difference 40 years makes.We are now the country we feared during the cold war,It seems they are winning without firing a shot.Wake up America!
  • by Praying for Charles :) Location: Hicksville on May 29, 2010 at 11:11 PM
    Thank goodness we have people like you to tell us poor dumb hicks what is legal and right. Why are you so afraid of our prayers? I do not fear the prayers of others no matter their faith. Why does it make some people so aggravated and anxious when Christians want to openly worship and pray? Is it only Islam that deserves to be respected?
  • by Damon on May 29, 2010 at 09:45 AM
    Personally, I think that any devout Christian would conduct prayer before heading to school. But then again, when has prayer in schools ever hurt anyone?
  • by Charles Location: Larsen on May 28, 2010 at 08:14 PM
    There sure are some backward and very inconsiderate people in Mississippi who have never heard of the US Constitution. The school had the right to fire her for leading the classroom in prayer. She has vowed to continue so now we'll see the school district get sued and lose tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees all because of their ignorance and stubbornness. Maybe the people of MS can join the rest of us living in the real world where we respect those who are different than us. They are doing nothing but perpetuating the stereotype that southerners are dumb hicks.
  • by Anonymous on May 28, 2010 at 08:03 PM
    FRED! Can there be too much time praying?! It sounds like we all need to be spending much time praying for YOU if that is the way you think. Taking a moment or two to pray is not taking away too much instructional time. Prayer is what gets me through my day....Maybe you should try it!
  • by Fred Location: Meridian on May 28, 2010 at 02:18 PM
    If this is allowed in schools it just opens the door, now we will have to have Islam, Buddist, Jewish prayers, and all the others so that we will be fair to all religions in the United States. This is one of the reasons the children are behind in education, too much time is spent on praying and not enough on teaching. It should be up to the parents at home to educate the children in the study of religion and should not be done in school.
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