Former Football Coach Settles with Bremerton School Board for $2 Million
The Bremerton School Board has reached a settlement with former football coach, Joe Kennedy, agreeing to pay nearly $2 million in attorney fees.
Kennedy made headlines in 2015 when he was placed on leave for refusing to stop praying on the field with players.
The Supreme Court ruled this summer that Kennedy did not violate any prior rulings against teacher-led religious activities in public schools.
The court’s ruling affirms that school employees can engage in prayer as long as others are not expected to join.
The school board has stated that Kennedy will be reinstated next year, but his contract will still need to be approved by the board.
This settlement marks the end of a lengthy legal battle between Kennedy and the school board.
Kennedy, who coached at Bremerton High School for seven years, has been represented by the Texas-based Liberty Institute, a nonprofit organization that advocates for religious freedom.
The settlement was accepted by the school board, and the funds for the attorney fees will come from the district’s insurance policy.
It remains unclear whether the settlement includes any additional compensation for Kennedy.
Despite the settlement, the case has sparked debate over the separation of church and state in public schools.
While some believe that school employees should have the right to engage in religious activities, others argue that it is inappropriate for teachers to lead prayer in a public school setting.
Kennedy’s case has also drawn attention to the issue of religious expression in sports.
While some coaches and athletes believe that prayer and other religious activities have a positive impact on the team, others argue that these activities can be exclusionary and make students of different faiths feel uncomfortable.