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Wausau works toward policy on religious music

  • Associated Press
  • January 2, 2014 - 9:00 AM

WAUSAU, Wis. — Wausau public schools leaders plan to craft an official policy regarding the performance of religious music at district events, after students and others rebelled against efforts to limit it in the fall.

A school administrator is forming a committee to gather input on the issue, Daily Herald Media reported Thursday (http://wdhne.ws/1bBRYQg ). The district hasn't had an official policy on religious music, but has relied on an administrative rule to "seek balance, respect and sensitivity toward all cultures and beliefs."

Elementary education director Nell Anderson acknowledged that the rule was vague.

She anticipated 18 to 20 people would serve on the committee addressing the issue, including parents, students, music teachers and religious leaders.

Religious music became an issue in October after district leaders attempted to limit performances of sacred songs by the Wausau West High School Master Singers, a choral group known for its holiday performances. Hundreds of people attended a meeting, with most opposing a limit on Christian songs. Some said it was an attack on their faith.

The Wausau School Board backed away from that move, as well as one to switch some elementary schools' holiday concerts to the spring.

Anderson's committee will look at how other districts handle religious music and seek advice from the Wisconsin School Board Association and professional music-education groups.

"Everybody just wants what's best for the school district," school board President Michelle Schaefer said.

© 2014 Star Tribune