EducationNorth Texas

Keller ISD is the latest school district to vote to allow unlicensed religious chaplains into its schools

Keller, Texas – Keller ISD recently decided to let religious chaplains who don’t need a license come into its schools.

At a Keller ISD Board of Trustees meeting on Monday night, filled with people both supporting and opposing the decision, there was a lot of strong feelings and discussions.

The decision allows these volunteer chaplains to help out students in ways the school board decides, and this caused quite a bit of argument among attendees. Some people speaking at the meeting believed this decision is good because it helps fill a gap in counseling services, while others worried about the influence of Christianity in public schools. One person argued that chaplains are already volunteering without any problems and saw this decision as unnecessary. Another pointed out that over 100 chaplains disagreeing with this decision is significant.

A third person criticized the decision, saying it was being forced by a minority on how students should live. Critics argue that this decision might lead to pushing religious beliefs on students in public schools and relying on advisors who aren’t licensed counselors. The decision allows these chaplains to offer guidance or do other tasks as decided by the school board, though it’s not yet clear what these tasks will be.

“Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, athiests, Buddhists might feel marginalized getting guidance from counselors who might not fully understand or respect their beliefs,” said one speaker.

Supporters welcome the idea of providing more spiritual guidance to students.

Some public speakers gave voice to that.

“If I had my way, it would be God first in everything. I think this is a great compromise,” said a parent on Monday night.

During the meeting, the Board had to ask someone to leave because they were clapping too loudly during a disagreement.

“Will you please escort Ms. Potts out. I can hardly hear up here with her loud clapping. Can you remove Ms. Potts for being disruptive?” said Board President Charles Randklev.

Following the debates, Ruthie Keyes, a board member, mentioned that this situation is part of why she’s resigning after serving 11 years. She got cut off by the president of the board.

“I am just walking out right here. For those of you want to hear the end of this, I will be right out there,” said Keyes pointing to the door.

Keller ISD is among the districts where a group supporting Christian Conservative values has spent over $500,000 to support candidates who share their beliefs for school board positions. At the meeting, Randklev assured everyone that the board’s decision was not about deceiving the public but about adhering to state laws.

“This idea the board has cooked up some sort of secret language in order to hoodwink the community into piping in chaplains who would then take the jobs of our counselors is patently false,” said the school board president. “We are talking about volunteers, we are not talking about replacing any of the counselors.”

Grapevine-Colleyville ISD’s board made a similar vote on Monday night as well.

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