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Collier County School Board votes against invocation before meetings

3-2 vote comes a year after conservative sweep in 2022 elections
Posted at 10:30 PM, Dec 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-12 22:30:06-05

NAPLES, Fla. — After months of deliberation, the Collier County School Board decided not to have an invocation before school board meetings.

In September, Jerry Rutherford, a school board member, brought forth the proposal for an invocation to start school board meetings.

Tonight, the board voted 2 to 3, denying the request after 4 meetings on the topic.

"They've spent so many meetings and so much time in this and their efforts do nothing to advance the student's education," said Chris Schmeckpeper-Kobzina, who's against the invocation. "That's what needs to be their focus."

However, others like H. Michael Mogil says the invocation was a great opportunity to set an example for the students that religions can come together.

It brought quite a controversy to school board meetings leading up to the decision by both board members and the public.

"If this is for the benefit of the board, I think it's unnecessary," said Stephanie Lucarelli, a school board member.

"For 350 years prayer was not a problem in America," said Rutherford. "It's only been a problem since 1947's so-called 'Separation of Church and State.'"

Rutherford noted the invocation would allow for any faith to participate, but this brought up concerns for board members like Lucarelli.

"If the Church of Satan decides they're going to sign up, and their name is pulled, that is something that we have to remember that we need to be open to hear," said Lucarelli.

13 months ago, Conservative candidates swept the 2022 board elections in Collier County, yet, this decision shows the new board may not have a free hand to proceed with every change it calls for.

To read the drafted protocol for the invocation, click here.