Joseph Kennedy, a former high school football coach, received a $1.7 million settlement from the Bremerton School District in Washington State after being fired for leading prayers with his players. The district approved the payment of Kennedy’s $1,775,000 salary, and he will also receive a $5,304 stipend for his work as an assistant coach for the 2023 football season. Kennedy has also been given permission by the school to work as an assistant coach at Bremerton High School once again.
The district’s statement made it clear that the school community is eager to advance and concentrate on giving its pupils the finest education possible. The resolution enables both parties to put the matter behind them for good after almost eight years of legal disputes.
This agreement comes after the Supreme Court ruled in Kennedy’s favor in a 6-3 decision in June 2022. The court upheld Kennedy’s constitutional right to pray on the field after games while knelt next to student-athletes.
Kennedy thanked the court for its decision and expressed his relief, saying that he felt vindicated and that everything he did was appropriate. In 2008, Kennedy started praying by himself on the 50-yard line following games, and over time, his players started to imitate him. He also led the team in prayer in the locker room and gave quick, spiritually charged motivating talks.
However, a few athletes complained to the school board in 2015 that they felt forced to participate in Joseph Kennedy’s prayers. Kennedy stopped praying in the locker room, but he still prayed after games on the field. He was thus put on paid vacation and was not hired again for the next season since he had broken the district’s rules.
Kennedy persisted in advocating for his right to pray alongside his players despite the setback, which eventually resulted in the Supreme Court ruling in his favor and the subsequent settlement with the Bremerton School District.