New Mexico prep coach placed on leave for praying with team
Espanola Valley High School boys basketball coach Richard Martinez was suspended after the superintendent received complaints of the incident, which took place in the team locker room prior to tipoff. Video shows the coaching staff and players joining hands in prayer. The team then went on to win the 5A Division title.Superintendent Bobbie Gutierrez said that the prayer wasn’t the only reason the coach was suspended, but she wouldn’t go into specifics, according to CSNnews.com.
From the article:
Gutierrez said teachers and faculty members are not allowed to lead students in prayer. Gutierrez said she would have had zero issue with the video if students had initiated the prayer.
At a public board meeting, following the suspension, many pledged their support to Martinez.
“He’s a good man, and he’s good for this town,” one man said.
“You won’t find a better coach in Espanola Valley,” another woman said.
Similar incidents occurred in Washington and Florida over the last six months. There has been outcry in the communities and threats of lawsuits but, as we’ve mentioned in previous posts, public school districts are only trying to protect themselves.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that prayer at games is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. As a result, schools in many states allow student-athletes to pray privately, but announcements over the public address system or coach-led prayer is prohibited.
Gutierrez said she expects a full review of the Espanola Valley High School incident to take a few weeks.
Click here for the complete story.