School Forced to Update Pledge of Allegiance Mandate

( – The Pledge of Allegiance is a chanted verse, a promise to remain loyal to the United States. Many schools have students recite it at the beginning of the day before starting classes. One school in Maryland was recently forced to update its directive to teachers regarding the daily activity.

On April 26, Twin Ridge Elementary School in Frederick County, Maryland, sent a notice to its teachers stating that per the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR), students and teachers are required to stand and salute the flag and recite the verse. A teacher complained about the directive, which got The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) involved.

The organization, which aims to protect the civil liberties of students, sent a letter to Heather Hobbs, the school’s principal, and noted that its directive, which cited Maryland Education Code § 7-105(c)(3), failed to note that there was another subsection. Subsection (d) states “Any student or teacher who wishes to be excused … shall be excused.” FIRE also accused the school of misrepresenting the law and violating the teachers’ and students’ First Amendment rights.

The correspondence from FIRE also cited a landmark 1943 case, West Virginia State Board of Education vs Barnette, that prohibited public schools from compelling students to participate in the Pledge. Additionally, Stephanie Jablonsky, a senior program officer with the organization, said, “Mandatory patriotism is no patriotism at all.”

After receiving the letter from the nonprofit, Twin Rivers sent out another message, updating its directive to include a clarification about the subsection allowing “anyone who chooses not to participate to make that choice.” Additionally, school administrators throughout Frederick County received the same notice that those who want to opt out have the right to do so.

Some area parents didn’t see what all of the fuss was about. One called into “Fox & Friends First” and said she wasn’t surprised about the school’s update but also didn’t see the issue with standing and honoring the “country that we’re lucky enough to be in.”

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