When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that Bremerton assistant football coach Joseph Kennedy had the right to pray on the field, it wasn’t widely understood then that the court had also ordered the school district to give him his job back.
So the school district has been flummoxed about what’s happened since. They complied by offering to reinstate him, they say, and now the football season is in full swing. But Kennedy is nowhere near the sidelines.
“He’s had the paperwork for his reinstatement since August 8th, and we haven’t gotten so much as a phone call,” says Karen Bevers, spokesperson for Bremerton schools.
It’s an increasingly surreal situation for the Bremerton schools. They were ordered to “reinstate Coach Kennedy to a football coaching position,” according to court documents. But the now-famous coach is out on the conservative celebrity circuit, continuing to tell a story about “the prayer that got me fired” — even though Bremerton never actually fired him.
In 2015, he was put on paid leave near the end of the season after holding a series of prayer sessions on the field with students and state legislators. He still got paid for his full assistant coach contract, about $5,000. High school assistants often work on yearly deals, and Kennedy, at odds with the head coach and aggrieved by what had happened, never reapplied to work the 2016 season.