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High School Coach Fired for Praying with Players Wins $1.7 Million Settlement

This article was originally published at StateOfUnion.org. Publications approved for syndication have permission to republish this article, such as Microsoft News, Yahoo News, Newsbreak, UltimateNewswire and others. To learn more about syndication opportunities, visit About Us.
Bremerton School District

The Bremerton School District in Washington unanimously approved a $1.775 million settlement for former football coach Joseph Kennedy.

Praying

He was fired for praying on the field. Kennedy is now permitted to return as an assistant coach in 2023 and will receive a stipend.

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court had previously ruled 6-3 that Kennedy had a constitutional right to kneel and pray with students after games.

Resume his football duties

Jeremy Dys, Kennedy’s attorney, told ABC News the coach will return to Bremerton — a small city of about 44,000 just across Puget Sound from Seattle — to resume his football duties.

Assistant football coach

“Mr. Kennedy will be an assistant football coach for Bremerton High School for the 2023 season,” the district said on its website, adding that it will pay his attorneys in interest-free installments over three fiscal years.

Inspirational

He began the on-field prayers in 2008 which students gradually joined, and also gave inspirational locker room speeches.

Concerns

In 2015, concerns were raised some felt pressured to participate, but he continued praying alone after games and was not rehired as a result.

Students' education

The district hopes the settlement ends the nearly eight-year legal battle so it can focus on students’ education.

Kennedy sued

Kennedy sued the district afterward. His attorneys at the First Liberty Institute — a nonprofit conservative Christian legal organization — took the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

Religious references

The coach also began giving talks with religious references, the Seattle Times said. The public school district asked him to stop and eventually suspended him in 2015.

Reemployment

He did not have his contract extended, and it is said that he did not seek reemployment for the position.

Personal

Kennedy emphasized that the prayers were personal expressions of faith, as reported by ABC News. The school district argued that student participation violated the Constitution’s ban on government officials endorsing a religion.

Conservative justices

Last year, the court’s six conservative justices supported Kennedy’s stance, reversing multiple lower court rulings that favored the district.

School board

The school board officially agreed to the settlement on March 16th.

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