KEARNEY -- The Kearney school board has decided to follow its legal counsel's advice and stop opening board meetings with prayers.
Board President Tim Higgins told fellow members at Monday night's meeting that the board's attorney and lawyers for the Nebraska Association of School Boards had been consulted.
"We've received information from our school attorney and were told, I quote from our attorney, 'We advise against such practice as courts have determined that school board prayers are unconstitutional,'" Higgins said.
School board members expressed their disappointment.
"I feel like the majority of people that voted for me would disagree with this decision, and I also disagree with this decision," member Jon Watts said. "I understand the advisement and that invocation will no longer be a part of the agenda, but, personally, it's very disappointing."
Board member Dave Glover said most of the community residents would support a prayer at the beginning of school board meetings, but he also said he's aware that a prayer may violate the consciences of some people.
Member Angela Nickel said: "We all regret the removal of the invocation from the agenda, and for anyone to interpret that removal as a lack of Christian beliefs is erroneous."
The board has been inviting ministers to open the meetings for the 12 years he's been on the board, Higgins said.
"I just thought when I came on it's just the way it was always done," he said.
But when a local ministers association disbanded and the pastors stopped responding to invitations for the invocations, Higgins said, the district double-checked the legal ramifications of board prayers.