TACOMA, Wash. — A Washington state school district does not have to immediately re-hire an assistant football coach who lost his job after he refused to stop praying at mid-field after games.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton on Monday declined to issue a preliminary injunction requested by former Bremerton High School coach Joe Kennedy. Kennedy is suing the district, arguing that officials violated his religious rights.

His attorneys sought an order that would have reinstated Kennedy as a coach and allowed him to pray silently at the 50-yard line after games while the case is litigated.

One of Kennedy’s lawyers, Mike Berry, called the ruling a disappointing but temporary setback.

A Bremerton School District spokeswoman declined to comment on the ruling. The district has argued that students could feel coerced to participate in religious activity when they see coaches lead or endorse it.