How do I become a Faith Partner?
A faith partnership forms when a faith-based organization and a school come to a mutual decision on how they can work together for the benefit of students. When these partnerships begin, great things can happen. FCS Faith Partners are packing backpacks of food, organizing school supply drives and providing after-school and weekend supports for students. Members are becoming Reading and Lunch Buddies, helping with homework and providing classroom assistance.
Guidelines for Schools and Faith Partners
Public schools are encouraged to develop faith-based partnerships provided there is an under-standing of some concepts related to the separation of church and state.
Here are some guidelines as cooperative relationships are developed:
- Under the First Amendment, public schools must be neutral concerning religion in all of their activities. Mutually beneficial partnerships are encouraged that improve student learning and growth.
- Schools must be open to participation by all responsible community groups. Other community organizations must be given an equal opportunity and are subject to the same secular selection criteria to operate programs in partnerships with schools.
- Diverse faith communities are encouraged to partner with schools.
- A student's grades, class ranking or participation in any school program will not be affected by his or her willingness to participate or not participate in a cooperative program with a faith-based partner. Student participation in any cooperative program may not be conditioned on membership in any religious group, acceptance or rejection of any religious belief, or participation (or refusal to participate) in any religious activity.
- All partnerships and partnership activities must remain secular.
- School volunteers and partners should be reminded that all conversation with students should remain secular.
- Do not pray with students or encourage prayer.
- Do not preach about faith while participating in a partnership activity.
- Do not prohibit a student from speaking about religion.
- A student's religious beliefs will not prohibit that student from being part of a faith-based partnership activity.
- Partnership activities conducted at a faith-based facility may be done so in rooms with religious icons or symbols. However, rooms cannot display any proselytizing materials.
- Space leased by a school from a faith-based organization and used for instructional purposes must be free of religious symbols.
- Faith/school partnerships should be outlined in a Partnership Agreement.