Moment of silence could be coming back to Illinois schools

January 14, 2011

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Public schools in Illinois will have to conduct a moment of silence each school day beginning next week. A court order suspending the moment of silence was lifted Thursday.

In a newsletter, Illinois' school superintendent acknowledges the legal battle over the state's "Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act."

Legislators approved the measure in 2007 despite critics who say it amounted to bringing religion into public schools. A federal judge initially suspended schools from having the moment of silence - but an appeals court said it is constitutional and the ban could be lifted soon. The appeals court even went so far as to cite a good example of how to implement the moment of silence: by making a school-wide announcement before the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Illinois superintendent says he will leave it up to individual districts how they want to conduct the moment of silence.

Tom Hernandez is a spokesman with the school system in southwest suburban Plainfield.

"We have 30 schools, so there might've been differences at individual buildings, but, generally speaking, I believe the prescribed amount of time, 15 seconds, 20 seconds was kind of tacked on to the morning announcements," Hernandez said.

Hernandez said Plainfield's schools are less worried about the moment of silence decision and more focused on the system's $7 million budget shortfall.

A spokeswoman for Chicago Public Schools says the district will give guidance to principals on how to abide by the law.