PPS board holds meeting about ban on student choir performances - KPTV - FOX 12

PPS board holds meeting about ban on student choir performances at The Grotto

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The inside of the Chapel of Mary at The Grotto, where dozens of choirs perform during the holiday season. The inside of the Chapel of Mary at The Grotto, where dozens of choirs perform during the holiday season.
The outside of the Chapel of Mary. The outside of the Chapel of Mary.
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Portland Public Schools held a special meeting on Tuesday to discuss a controversial decision about school choir performances and a church.

FOX 12 first brought you this story a couple weeks ago after the district announced that school vocal groups will no longer perform at The Grotto.

On Tuesday, FOX 12 caught up with the woman petitioning the decision, who was able to speak to district leaders at the meeting.

The Grotto in NE Portland is a Catholic shrine. Earlier this month, Portland Public Schools decided to stop having students perform at the Festival of Lights at The Grotto, after the Freedom from Religion group complained.

Jennifer O'Leary told FOX 12 she was shocked when she heard the news.

O'Leary sand at The Grotto many times as a student at Grant High School and said there was never a problem. So she started an online petition at change.org and it now has almost 3,500 signatures.

During the special meeting, o'Leary was given three minutes to speak about her petition to the board.

She said that one representative from the Portland chapter of the Freedom from Religion group spoke at the meeting, as well as an ACLU representative.

"I'm questioning if everything has been done to maybe compromise. Have they worked through things with The Grotto? Are there ways to make this work for all parties involved? Religion and personal beliefs are very individual things obviously, so instead of making a sweeping decision, maybe there's a way to handle this on a case-by-case basis," said O'Leary.

O'leary said that if they don't reverse the decision, she has a backup plan. She hopes to be able to put together a community choir that is not school sanctioned, but includes PPS students that can perform at The Grotto.

So far, Portland Public Schools have not changed their mind about The Grotto ban.

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