Superintendent puts halt to prayer chain at area middle school

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MEDINA, Ohio -- Medina residents are speaking out after a superintendent stopped a prayer chain at school, decided that it violated laws separating church and state.

A weekly bulletin from the A.I. Root Middle School listed several school-related happenings, along with a note about a prayer chain. It said if people wanted to join, they could email the principal.

A number of people in the community were dealing with tragedies and coping with hardships. The chain started small and was growing.

"Our intention was never to offend anyone on the staff," said Principal Chad Wise. "That's the last thing, certainly, that we would want to do. But we wanted to provide that opportunity for staff members who wanted to support one another."

But after the bulletin went out, however, some felt uncomfortable of the notion that church and state need to be separate.

Superintendent Dave Knight said he has no issue with prayer chains, but did work to end this one.

"As soon as we, what I call 'systemize' the chain, that's inappropriate when we use any form of district resources. That crosses that very clear black and white line."

After a hearing, it was decided that there would be no more A.I. Root Middle School prayer chains using district equipment.

Resident Nancy Finley said she didn't have a problem with the chain.

"My thought was, if you don't want to participate, that's fine. But I see absolutely no harm in doing the prayer chain. I think it personally is a wonderful thing."

Resident Mathew Howley has a different view.

"To do it on school computers and school hardware, that is not appropriate because we are supposed to maintain a separation between church and state," he said.

After the superintendent's decision, the chain continues in a different form. A teacher will run the chain using private computers, personal emails, and on off-school time.