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South Dakota Prayer in Public Schools Laws

Few issues seem as divisive in South Dakota today as prayer in public schools. Regardless of the side of the debate on which you fall, it is always important to know what Mount Rushmore law has to say on the matter. This is a quick summary of prayer in public school law in South Dakota.

South Dakota Laws Prayer In Public Schools

The First Amendment both supports and runs counter to the idea of prayer in public schools. On one hand, students have the right to express their religious beliefs. However, the school itself cannot adopt an official religion or favor any one particular belief system.

South Dakota Laws Prayer In Public Schools

While South Dakota laws do not address prayer in public schools, it is far from a settled legal issue. School officials may not impose prayers, or organize prayer events, or turn the school auditorium into a local church for religious celebrations.

However, the state does allow students a moment of silence during which each student is free to pray, meditate or reflect to himself or herself. However, it is important to note that once a teacher suggests that the moment of silence should be used for prayer, the activity is considered to advance religion and is constitutionally impermissible.

The bottom line: when considering the law with respect to public school prayer, it is important to differentiate between school-sponsored prayer and voluntary prayer. A school violates federal law by setting aside time or space specifically for "prayer," but that doesn't mean students are prohibited from praying voluntarily.

Federal Law

But like other states, even those with school prayer statutes, South Dakota must abide by federal law and precedent. Even schools that set aside a "minute of silence," a "period of quiet reflection," or some other accommodation for religious students, it must be broad enough so that it doesn't constitute school-sponsored prayer.

The following chart cites South Dakota's prayer in public schools law, with links to related resources. See FindLaw's Religion at School section to learn more

Applicable Code Section No statutory provisions
What is Allowed? N/A

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a South Dakota education attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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South Dakota Prayer in Public Schools Laws: Related Resources

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