Cypress-Fairbanks ISD Rejects Policy Hiring Unqualified Chaplains, Respects Community Outcry and Religious Freedom

February 13, 2024

CONTACT: Emily Witt, [email protected]

HOUSTON — The Cypress-Fairbanks ISD Board of Trustees last night rejected to create a new policy under SB 763 allowing unqualified chaplains to be employed or accepted as volunteers to act as “mental health personnel and support” in the district’s public schools.

The district has previously allowed chaplains and faith leaders to volunteer or be employed if they held the required qualifications and credentials. The board affirmed this policy will remain the same.

SB  763, which went into effect in September 2023, requires every school district in the state to take a vote on whether or not to employ chaplains or accept them as volunteers in their school district by March 1, 2024. 

Under the law, chaplains employed or allowed to volunteer are not required to hold the same certifications or credentials as licensed school counselors. The law also does not require chaplains to disregard their religious beliefs while serving students in Texas public schools.

Texas Freedom Network Organizing Director Seneca Savoie (he/him) issued the following response​:

“We applaud the trustees at Cypress-Fairbanks ISD for upholding the religious freedom of their students and families by rejecting this policy. Parents and community members organized in strong numbers against this policy, and it is their relentlessness that won for religious freedom last night.

“Texas kids deserve licensed counselors who are trained to meet the needs of all students without religious bias, including LGBTQIA+ students and those weighing reproductive health decisions. While leaders in our state flagrantly attempt to push religious agendas in our public schools, our communities continue proving that the religious right does not represent all Texans. We encourage community members to keep showing up, from board meetings to the ballot box.”