WA high school football coach wins $1.7M settlement and job reinstatement after being fired for praying at games

Kennedy argued that the prayers were private acts of faith.

Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal QC
The Washington state high school football coach who was fired for leading students in prayers on the field after games has reportedly been awarded a $1.7 million settlement and will regain his job next season.

The Bremerton school board unanimously accepted the settlement following a US Supreme Court ruling in June 2022 that coach Joseph Kennedy's prayer groups were protected under the First Amendment.

Kennedy's attorney stated that the coach will return to Bremerton to resume his football duties as an assistant coach for Bremerton High School in the 2023 season. The school district will pay his attorneys in interest-free installments over three fiscal years.

Kennedy had coached at Bremerton High School since 2008 and began praying alone at the 50-yard line after games. He eventually gained student and player participation and began giving talks with religious references, the Seattle Times reports.

The public school district asked him to stop and eventually suspended him in 2015, and his contract was not renewed. He subsequently sued the district, and his attorneys at the First Liberty Institute, a nonprofit conservative Christian legal organization, took the case to the Supreme Court.

Kennedy argued that the prayers were private acts of faith, while the school district claimed that student involvement broke the Constitution's prohibition on government officials promoting religion.

The Supreme Court's conservative justices sided with Kennedy last year, overturning several lower court decisions that had favored the district. The school board approved the settlement on March 16.

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