Fifth-grade graduation to no longer be held at Jacksonville Church

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Parents at Hendricks Avenue Elementary received a letter saying a 5th-grade graduation would no longer be held at Southside United Methodist Church.

Action News Jax spoke with a lady, who didn’t want to be identified on camera who thinks the school district made the right call.

“I think that is actually a good idea. That’s a public school and this is a religious place, even if it’s just being used as a building,” said The Lady.

According to the letter, DCPS principals received direction from the district’s policy and compliance department discouraging the use of religious facilities to stage public school events.

That’s because of constitutional concerns raised by holding a public school event at a religious institution, and potentially blurring the line between church and state.

We did reach out to the Southside United Methodist Church to get their reaction on this and haven’t heard back.


We did ask the lady, who is also a mother what would she say to someone who believes these graduations should be held at this church, and this is what she said.

“Respect other people. And even though you are comfortable with it, other people aren’t,” said the lady.

Gay Allen, who has grandchildren attending Hendricks Avenue Elementary, says this is wrong what the school district decided to do.

“I think 5th graders should have religion in their faces 24/7 all the time. The only way to live, is with Christ in your life,” said Allen.

The letter also says that the staff is already developing a contingency plan.

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As for Allen, she says right now she doesn’t know where this graduation will be held.

“They will probably put it in a gym,” said Allen.

We did reach out to DCPS, here is what they said in part.

“Churches have generously allowed us to use facilities in the past as part of their partnerships with schools, and we greatly appreciate the support of our faith-based partners. It came to our attention recently that some families’ religious beliefs would prevent them from participating in a school-sponsored event held in a religious facility,” said DCPS

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