Religious debate prompts McKinney ISD to move graduations

Seniors at McKinney’s three high schools will not cross the stage at Prestonwood Baptist Church on graduation day.

The ceremonies are being moved because of a debate over the separation of church and state. Some parents objected to the symbolism of the church’s crucifix as a backdrop for a public school graduation.

When the church refused to allow the cross to be covered, the school board decided to move the graduations to the Allen Events Center.

"It appears religious freedom is under attack at the McKinney Public Schools. It was our refusal to remove the cross from view that created this cowardly decision," Prestonwood pastor Jack Graham said.

A McKinney district spokesman says the district did not ask for the cross to be covered. He says the request came from a group advocating freedom from religion.

Jill Oyler is a parent who's been vocal about separation of church and state.

“We are very happy that the district has decided to follow the laws,” Oyler said.

McKinney ISD Superintendent Rick McDaniel received both criticism and applause for bowing his head in prayer at a convocation at Prestonwood in August.

The school district said the venue was chosen simply because it was large enough to hold the entire school district.