Amelia County students told not to pray in school


AMELIA COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Controversy has arisen in Amelia County after a high school principal allegedly threatened to punish students for praying.

It happened Thursday towards the end of the school day when eight students held hands and prayed in between classes.

They say the principal immediately approached them and told them to stop.

“Once the prayer was over, we all said amen and we began to go to class,” Matt Dunn, a student involved said. “She immediately herded us up and detained us in the office until the end of the school day.”

Another student, Hailey Williams expressed her anger over the confrontation.

“It made me feel disgusting,” Williams said. “It didn’t make me proud to live in Amelia County. Honestly, it disappointed me more than anything.”

Hailey’s mother Katy said her daughter has never been in trouble before.

“She was very upset. She came home crying, and that’s upsetting to me because all she did was pray,” Katy Williams said.

The students say the principal even threatened to suspend them for the prayer.

However, her tone changed Friday, when students and their parents met with school administrators. The principal apologized and admitted she made a mistake. Amelia County school superintendent Jack McKinley sent home a letter to all students calling what happened a misunderstanding. He did say that the “situation could have been handled better.”

“I feel like moving forward, there are some things she will reflect on and it was a learning moment for all of us,” Dunn said.

Hailey Williams said she is happy with how the situation was resolved.

“They accepted the fact that we pray and we’re allowed to do that in school now, and it just means the world to every Christian in Amelia County,” Hailey said.

“My daughter’s happy, so I’m happy,” Katy Williams said.

The school superintendent told 8News that this was a learning moment for the principal about what’s allowable for students. They can pray in school as long as it doesn’t interfere with classroom instruction.

The students say the principal’s apology helped turn the entire situation around.

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