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Parents react after Texas lawmakers pass bill allowing chaplains in public schools

Classroom (Credit: KFOX14/CBS4)
Classroom (Credit: KFOX14/CBS4)
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A new bill, approved by the Texas Legislature, could make it possible for chaplains to work in public schools as soon as this upcoming school year.

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Senate Bill 763 was approved last Monday and is heading to Texas governor Greg Abbott's desk.

The bill would allow Texas school boards to decide whether or not its district should hire chaplains to work alongside or replace school counselors.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a chaplain is "a Christian official who is responsible for the religious needs of an organization."

“Today’s kids need to learn more about faith. It could help the kids a lot if they had a counselor that talked to them about god," said Selene Armendariz.

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“The more positive influences we could have for the children today, especially with the climate that you see and the woke-ism, I think it would be a positive effect on the children," said Sheldon Wheeler.

While each chaplain must pass a background check and be endorsed by a religious organization, they wouldn't need to be certified by the State Board for Educator Certification.

Unlike chaplains, school counselors would need to complete several certifications to be a counselor in the state of Texas.

According to the Texas Association of School Boards, the requirements for the school counselor certificate include all the following:

  • Successfully complete a school counselor preparation program
  • Passed the school counselor certification exam
  • Hold, at a minimum, a 48-hour master’s degree in counseling from an accredited institution of higher education
  • Have two creditable years of teaching experience as a classroom teacher

“I wouldn’t want them to replace the counselors because I think the counselors serve their own functions but I think you could supplement the services that the children are receiving today, and I would be all for that," said Wheeler.

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“Counselors have to be certified to be able to help the kids. The chaplains should also be certified just like any other counselor," said Nora Rodriguez.

Supporters of this bill say with the recent crime in schools having a chaplain could be a benefit.

Meanwhile, other people say religion has no place in classrooms.

“This is a distinct violation of church and state. I would ask, what is the chaplain's agenda? What is their purpose for being there? Is it to spread the word of god? Then can we hire, I don't know what the equivalent of a chaplain is in a different religion, but would we be able to hire them as well? It makes the situation grey," said Laura Weber.

CBS4 reached out to El Paso's three largest school districts about the bill and if they would consider getting a chaplain if the bill is passed.

In an email, the Ysleta Independent School District (YISD) said, "In response to your request, Ysleta ISD does not comment on pending legislation."

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