Coach Fired Over Praying Quits After Winning Job Back

Joe Kennedy was on the field again for one game
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 27, 2022 12:31 AM CDT
Updated Sep 6, 2023 6:05 PM CDT
High School Football Coach Fired Over Prayers on Field Is Returning to His Job
Former Bremerton High School assistant football coach Joe Kennedy stands on the field at Bremerton Memorial Stadium, Nov. 5, 2015.   (Larry Steagall/Kitsap Sun via AP, File)
UPDATE Sep 6, 2023 6:05 PM CDT

One game into his return to the football coaching staff at Washington's Bremerton High School, Joe Kennedy has resigned from the job the US Supreme Court allowed him to keep. "It is apparent that the reinstatement ordered by the Supreme Court will not be fully followed after a series of actions meant to diminish my role and single me out in what I can only believe is retaliation by the school district," said the resignation letter, which was seen by the Seattle Times. Before the game on Friday, Kennedy suggested his return might be brief, saying that the game put a "fine bow" on the court victory allowing him to pray on the field but that his thoughts didn't go beyond that. Bremerton beat Mount Douglas 27-12, per the Kitsap Sun. No spectators took to the field to pray with Kennedy, as some did in 2015.

Oct 27, 2022 12:31 AM CDT

The Washington state high school football coach fired for leading team prayers on the field will be given his old job back, per court documents filed this week. The Supreme Court sided with Joe Kennedy in June, finding in a 6-3 ruling that his First Amendment rights were violated. His lawyers as well as school district attorneys filed a joint stipulation Tuesday that says "Kennedy is to be reinstated to his previous position as assistant coach of the Bremerton High School football team on or before March 15, 2023," ABC News reports. The documents also bar Bremerton School District from retaliating against him for "conduct that complies with the terms of the Court's Order," and prohibits the district from stopping him from praying on the field, Fox News reports.

Kennedy's attorney confirms his client, who moved to Florida after losing his job, will be moving back later this year in order to return to the part-time job. He's expected to be back on the field by the fall 2023 football season. A district spokesperson says there remain "areas where there are still questions" about how Kennedy's prayers will be accommodated in a way that is consistent with the high court's ruling. (More Washington state stories.)

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