Group questions 'religious event' at Moss Point school - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Group questions 'religious event' at Moss Point school

The Freedom from Religion Foundation has not received a response from the school district. (Photo source: WLOX) The Freedom from Religion Foundation has not received a response from the school district. (Photo source: WLOX)
MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) -

A message from a pastor and children compelled to pray. Those actions at a youth summit in Moss Point are being called into question by the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

Teaching the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the goal of the annual youth summit that's part of the Gulf Coast MLK Celebration. 

This year's summit was held in January at Magnolia Middle School in Moss Point. Now, months later, the Freedom from Religion Foundation has sent a letter to the Moss Point School District to express church and state separation concerns. 



"I am shocked at the letter, and I am confused by the letter," said Allytra Perryman. 

Perryman helped organize the MLK Celebration, including the event in Moss Point. She said even though the letter claims a preacher delivered a sermon to students, the summit was held on a Saturday and wasn't part of a school requirement to attend. 

"In absolutely no way was this event organized by the Moss Point School District," Perryman said. "We simply used their school as a venue."

Along with the location, attorney for the Freedom from Religion Foundation Sam Grover also called into question the participation of Moss Point School District Communications Director Jaleasa Walden. Walden played a lead role in planning the event. 

"We have concerns over school employees promoting the event to students and participating in the event directly," Grover said. 

Walden said she couldn't comment on the issue other than saying the school district turned the letter over to the board attorney for a response to be prepared. Perryman said Walden has organized the youth summit for several years, and she doesn't see her position with the school district as a conflict of interest. 

"At no time has Jaleasa ever used any position she's held to influence what goes on with the youth summit with the MLK committee," Perryman said.

According to Grover, the Freedom from Religion Foundation has not received a response from the school district. The letter was dated June 16, and Grover said the deadline for a response is Tuesday.

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