A war of words over religious liberty broke out Friday between Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office and officials at the Frisco school district.
Relying on a student journalist’s March 3 report about a prayer room at Frisco’s Liberty High School, Paxton’s office distributed a letter and press release complaining that the room was for the exclusive use of Muslim students.
Frisco Superintendent Jeremy Lyon fired back the same day. Room C112 at Liberty High has been used by Muslim students for prayer since 2009, Lyon wrote.
Other students may also use the room, he wrote.
Deputy Attorney General Andrew Leonie quoted an article in Wingspan, a student publication, in the complaint letter to Lyon.
“Reports from Liberty’s news site indicate that the prayer room is not available to students of all faiths,” wrote Leonie. “Instead, it appears that the prayer room is ‘dedicated to the religious needs of some students’ — namely, those who practice Islam.”
The news release decried the school’s policy as “apparently excluding students of other faiths.”
Leonie lectured Frisco ISD about the importance of equal rights for all religious faiths, adding, “Liberty High School’s policy should be neutral toward religion.”
Lyon responded that the complaint was a surprise. For seven years, there have been no complaints about the prayer room.
He pointed to another news story that followed the Wingspan report, this one from professional journalists at KERA radio. It said the room is available to non-Muslim students.
Use of the room means Muslim students can maintain their faith’s required prayer schedule without leaving campus and missing class.
“To Frisco ISD’s knowledge, it has not received any inquiry from the (Office of the Attorney General) on this issue,” Lyon wrote. He requested evidence of any attempts to contact the district prior to the news release.
“Absent such evidence, this ‘Press Release’ appears to be a publicity stunt by the OAG to politicize a non-issue,” Lyon wrote.
There seems to be little ground for complaint about Frisco ISD.