Parents fought back and won against a charter school in Atlanta which replaced the Pledge of Allegiance with an oath to “global society.”
In a controversy that reached all the way up to Georgia’s state lawmakers, the Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School finally reversed its decision on when the Pledge of Allegiance would be recited and starting the day with a school pledge instead.
The problem began when elementary campus principal Lara Zelski decided to be politically correct in the name of being inclusive, reported The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“Over the past couple of years it has become increasingly obvious that more and more of our community were choosing to not stand and/or recite the pledge,” Zelski told parents. “There are many emotions around this and we want everyone in our school family to start their day in a positive manner. After all, that is the whole purpose of our morning meeting.”
The principal proposed a school pledge based on “students’ civic responsibility to their school family, community, country and our global society.”
Fox News reported earlier that students would participate in a group “Wolf Pack Chant” in honor of the school’s mascot.
“Students will continue to lead the meeting by asking our community to stand to participate in our Wolf Pack Chant together. Students will also be given the opportunity to say the pledge at another point during the school day within their classroom,”Zelski reportedly said in a news release that was later taken down, according t Fox News.
Word that reciting the pledge was being eliminated sparked a backlash from parents that escalated into an outcry which got the attention of Georgia House Speaker David Ralston.
“I’m sure our House Education Committee will examine whether taxpayer funds should be used to instill such a divisive ideology in our students,” the Republican lawmaker said, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “If the school is going to accept public funding, then I think they have an obligation to, at least, have dialogue with the community.”
Georgia gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp heartily agreed and the school ended up issuing a statement.
While noting that its policies were aligned with those of the Georgia Department of Education, the school acknowledged that there was “some miscommunication and inconsistency in the rollout” of the new format.
“In the past, the Pledge of Allegiance was recited during our all-school morning meeting, but at the start of the school year, the daily practice was moved to classrooms. This change was done in compliance with state law,” Lia Santos, Board Chair of the Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School, said in a statement.
“However, it appears there was some miscommunication and inconsistency in the rollout. Starting next week, we will return to our original format and provide our students with the opportunity to recite the Pledge during the all-school morning meeting,” Santos continued.
“We support our students in their growth and see it as our duty as educators to respect their First Amendment rights,” Santos concluded in the statement. “We are working together with the school administration to ensure we address concerns and feedback from our school family, while continuing to uphold and support the rights of every member of our school community.”
According to state DOE policy, which also requires that no student be compelled to recite the pledge, schools must set aside a time for the pledge either at the beginning of the school day or during the homeroom period.
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