"He is a man who likes to pray and I don't object to that. Just - he can't do that with our students. That's the only prohibition," says Dr. Davis Baum, the Headmaster of Tempe Preparatory Academy. The head of the publicly-funded charter school recently suspended head varsity football coach, Tom Brittain, for two games. The suspension--for violating school policy after a recent win.
REASON FOR SUSPENSION
"He directed students to lead a prayer and he joined the students in that prayer and did so in view of everyone. I think I preserved the religious freedom of our students - who have to have the liberty to be able to practice or not practice their religion on our campus - without interference by adults," adds Dr. Baum.
REACTION TO SUSPENSION
Many parents and students disagree with the school's move. Students showed up at Friday night's homecoming game with a sign that read, "In Support of Coach Brittain: Who's been a TPA Coach for 12 Years and a Teacher There for 17."
One former TPA parent wore his message. "I think it's outrageous. Ray Rice gets two games for cold-cocking his fiancé and Tom Brittain gets two games for praying," says Keith Wibel.
Other parents support the school's decision saying Brittain has been pushing his players to pray for years. "The school is not a religious school. It's a regular school - so, it's against the bylaws to in order for him to pray. It's not that he's a bad coach. But, you have to go by the bylaws in anything that you do," says John Hicks.