What happened on a stage over the summer is putting a spotlight on McKinney ISD. Superintendent Dr. Rick McDaniel held hands and prayed during a staff assembly at Prestonwood Baptist Church.
Fast forward to a November school board meeting, a small group is taking up an age-old fight over the separation of church and state.
"They need to work towards a cultural shift within the district. It's not going to be enough to do one training," said Amy Bennett, who has a daughter in the district and said she was a former teacher with the district.
A Twitter page under the handle @mymisd has even been devoted to that fight. Posts show pictures of religious symbols like crosses in classrooms. The district said based on the posts, some issues were addressed, but the spokesperson also said some pictures were not from McKinney.
The following statement was sent to WFAA:
"McKinney ISD is committed to maintaining a culture that respects the diverse backgrounds and beliefs of all of our students and staff. We have received a small number of concerns raised about the venues used for convocation and high school graduations, and several complaints over teachers displaying personal items that may be religious in nature. We have also received significant parent feedback in support of using these venues for the purpose of district events. We respect all community feedback, and we feel confident in the steps we have taken to ensure a safe, respectful and secure environment for all McKinney ISD students."
School districts across the State of Texas use churches for large district events such as convocation and graduation.
McKinney ISD's existing facilities cannot accommodate large events and, therefore, the district must rent outside facilities.
Prestonwood Baptist Church has been used by McKinney ISD and a number of area school districts including Frisco ISD, Plano ISD and Prosper ISD based on legitimate criteria, including size, cost, staging areas, air conditioning and location.
McKinney ISD is currently constructing a comprehensive stadium and community event center. The District intends to take full advantage of its new facilities once completed, including holding future convocations. The District will continue to utilize Prestonwood for graduations due to the facilities audio/visual capabilities and the risk of inclement weather.
Tuesday's meeting started with a prayer, but it was not led by the superintendent. A district spokesperson said Superintendent Dr. Rick McDaniel regrets the distraction the prayer at the assembly caused. The spokesperson also said next year they will do something different. They could not elaborate as to what that looks like.
No decisions were made Tuesday night. It was also not even an item on the agenda. The group said they will continue to attend the meetings until they feel the district is entirely secular.