Former High School Football Coach Fired For Praying With Players Receives $1.7 Million Settlement

After being dismissed for leading prayers with his players, Joseph Kennedy, a former high school football coach, has been granted a $1.7 million settlement from the Bremerton School District in Washington State. The district concurred on the payment of $1,775,000 in compensation for Kennedy, and he has also been awarded a $5,304 stipend for serving as an assistant coach in the 2023 football season. In addition, the school has given Kennedy the authorization to return to Bremerton High School to serve as an assistant coach.

The district’s statement emphasized that the school community is eager to move forward and focus on providing the best education possible for their students. After nearly eight years of legal battles, the settlement allows both parties to put the issue behind them finally.

This settlement follows a June 2022 ruling by the Supreme Court, which found in Kennedy’s favor by a 6-3 vote. The court affirmed that Kennedy had the constitutional right to kneel next to student-athletes and pray on the field following games.

Kennedy expressed his relief and gratitude for the ruling, stating that he felt vindicated and that everything he did was satisfactory. Kennedy began praying alone on the 50-yard line after games in 2008, and over time, his players began to follow him. He also delivered brief inspirational speeches with spiritual overtones and led the team in prayers in the locker room.

Nonetheless, in 2015, a few athletes raised concerns with the school board that they were being compelled to join in Joseph Kennedy’s prayers. Kennedy stopped conducting prayers in the locker room, but he continued to pray on the field following games. Consequently, he was placed on paid leave and not rehired for the subsequent season, as he had violated the district’s policies.

Despite the setback, Kennedy continued to fight for his right to pray with his players, ultimately leading to the Supreme Court’s decision in his favor and the subsequent settlement with the Bremerton School District.

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