High school football coach Joe Kennedy, who was sacked for praying during games, cashed in and struck a large $2 million settlement with the school board. He will now be allowed to resume his coaching career.
A 6-3 Supreme Court decision was in his favor in August 2022. The Bremerton School District in Washington State was ordered by a court in October 2022 to rehire him by March 2023.
The district stated, “Mr. Kennedy will be an assistant football coach for Bremerton High School for the 2023 season. Mr. Kennedy has completed human resources paperwork and we are awaiting the results of his fingerprinting and background check. Mr. Kennedy will need to complete all training required by WIAA. As with any other assistant coach, Mr. Kennedy will be included in coaching staff communication and meetings, spring football practice and other off-season football activities.”
Kennedy’s legal team, First Liberty Institute, executive general counsel Hiram Sasser, stated, “We are thrilled that Bremerton and Coach Kennedy are back together and we hope they go undefeated.”
The Bremerton School Board decided on Thursday to approve a settlement of almost $2 million with Joseph Kennedy.
The district said last week that it had come to a $1,775,000 settlement on a claim for Kennedy’s legal expenses.
At first, Kennedy prayed by himself on the 50-yard line at the conclusion of games when he first began coaching at the school in 2008. When more students joined him, he eventually started giving brief, motivational speeches that included religious connections.
The Bremerton School Board accepted a nearly $2 million settlement with Joe Kennedy, who was fired for praying on the field. Kennedy is also being reinstated as a high school football coach. #FOX13 https://t.co/77xLaSHbgC
— FOX 13 Seattle (@fox13seattle) March 18, 2023
Kennedy led students in locker room prayers and performed both of those things for years. In 2015, the school district became aware of what he was doing and requested that he cease.
Kennedy no longer led kids in prayer in the locker room or on the field, but he still intended to pray there personally, with the option for others to participate if they so desired.
After the game, the school requested that he cease his custom of kneeling and praying while still “on duty” as a coach due to worries that it would face legal action for breaching students’ rights to exercise their religion. The school placed him on paid leave when he continued to kneel and pray on the field.