Joe Kennedy, the now-rehired Washington state high school assistant football coach fired for praying with students on the field after games, says the school is "still dragging its heels" and "putting up a fight" about reinstating him.
The Bremerton school board voted unanimously two weeks ago to accept a $1.7 million settlement agreement with Kennedy, which follows the U.S. Supreme Court's split decision last June that Kennedy's prayer groups were protected by the First Amendment.
Kennedy began coaching at Bremerton High near Seattle in 2008. He initially prayed alone on the 50-yard line at the end of games. Students started joining him, and over time he began delivering short, inspirational talks with religious references. Kennedy did that for years and also led students in locker room prayers. When the school district learned what he was doing in 2015, it asked him to stop out of concerns of a possible lawsuit over students' religious freedom rights.
"Even though the kids want me back, the community wants me back, the school is still dragging their heels and still putting up a fight," Kennedy said Thursday during an appearance on Newsmax's "National Report."
Bremerton High School is "writing letters to the community, telling them that I was just a big distraction and that I was wrong still. It's like they're making it hard for me to come back, but I'm showing up at the end of May for the 2023 season for spring training, and if they've got a problem with it, they're just going to have to deal with me," he added.
Kennedy said the school was upset following the settlement agreement and wished the $1.7 million was "going to me."
"I'd be buying all new equipment for the team, that just all goes to lawyer fees," he said.
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