Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School Principal Lara Zelski decided students will no longer recite the Pledge of Allegiance during the school’s morning meeting agenda, which she described to parents as “an effort to begin our day as a fully inclusive and connected community.”
“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,” she wrote, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
The statement, posted to the school website, promised parents students could recite the Pledge of Allegiance later in the day, if they felt like it, and vowed to create better pledge specifically for the school.
“Teachers and the K-5 leadership team will be working with students to create a school pledge that we can say together at morning meeting,” Zelski wrote, adding that it “will focus on students’ civic responsibility to their school family, community, country and our global society.”
“I’m really looking forward to what our students create,” she wrote, according to TheBlaze.
The move infuriated parents and quickly gained the attention of Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, and others who denounced the decision.
“I’m sure our House Education Committee will examine whether taxpayer funds should be used to instill such a divisive ideology in our students,” Ralston posted online, the AJC reports.
In less than a day, school officials reversed course.
Zelski’s announcement was wiped from the school’s website and replaced with a statement from Lia Santos, chairwoman of the school’s governing board.
“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 … and aligned Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School with most other schools in the state who also say the Pledge of Allegiance in individual classrooms.
“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 wrote.
According to the AJC:
The state DOE policy demands that schools set a time for the pledge, each school day, at the beginning of the school day or during the homeroom period. But students may not be compelled to recite the pledge, it adds.
Districts across metro Atlanta abide by both aspects of the policy – doing the pledge and giving the right to not participate.
Janice Crouse, conservative analyst and author of “Children at Risk,” told One News Now the situation serves an important lesson for parents.
“I think parents should take heart … in that the administration was forced to change their minds and go back to having the Pledge of Allegiance,” she said. “And I think parents can learn from this that they do need to speak out, and they do need to know what’s going on so that they can speak out.”