To many students, the routine is a familiar one in which they stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the school day. But, for one school district, that routine is being called into question.
An elementary school in Tallahassee, Florida, sent students home with a waiver for parents to sign—an opt-out form that gave them the opportunity to excuse their child from standing and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The form states: “I understand my rights as a parent and I request that my child, noted above, be excused from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. This request includes standing and placing his/her right hand over his/her heart.”
The waiver, which went viral after a student’s aunt posted a picture of it (along with her personal opinion of the request) to Facebook, has prompted much debate on the social network. The photo has received more than 28,000 shares at publication time.
School officials responded to the controversy with a statement citing Florida law: “Leon County Schools values patriotism, civic responsibility, and the pledge of allegiance. A change to Florida law this year requires all school districts to publish in the student code of conduct booklet the students’ right to not participate in reciting the pledge of allegiance. In complying with the change in law, our staff developed a form for parents to use to exercise that right. Superintendent Pons received several messages from the community in regards to this process and—upon further inspection—made the decision to remove the form and revise the code of conduct booklet. We apologize for any confusion the form may have caused. We understand that approximately 400 paper copies were distributed before the superintendent stopped the process.”