McAlester high school

McAlester High School.

An organization sent a letter to McAlester Public Schools noting concerns about its affiliation with a local Christian organization.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to MPS Superintendent Randy Hughes regarding concerns of the school’s annual coin drive fundraiser benefiting Shared Blessings.

“We understand the law and we will really pay attention to our fundraisers and make sure they do not have any affiliation with a church,” Hughes said.

Freedom From Religion Foundation is a nonprofit organization with more than 30,000 members nationally with a goal to “protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church,” the letter states.

“It is laudable for the district to encourage students to become active, chartable and involved in their community by volunteering and donating, but the school cannot use that goal as an avenue to support a religious organization with a religious mission,” the letter states. “Partnering with any one of the numerous secular charities doing important work throughout the world would serve the school’s purpose without running the risk that the District sends a message of religious endorsement.”

“We ask that you ensure McAlester Public Schools remains mindful of the diversity of its student body and staff and selects a different charitable organization to promote in the future,” the letter states.

MPS and Shared Blessings have partnered to provide supplies and food for students.

The school district raised $2,907 in last year’s district-wide coin drive benefiting Shared Blessings and $1,441 the previous year.

“The reason why Shared Blessings was chosen was because it’s for our kids here in McAlester, it doesn’t go off, it stays here,” Hughes said. “They feed over 450 of our kids on a weekly basis so we really wanted to help them out.”

Hughes said the school took the concerns in the letter under advisement and will not contribute to an organization with a Christian affiliation in the future.

“We will ensure we will closely look at each of our organizations that we contribute our fundraisers so we don’t violate any laws,” Hughes said.

Contact Adrian O’Hanlon III at aohanlon@mcalesternews.com

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