New policy on pledge of allegiance at Georgia school creates outcry

Students at a charter school in Atlanta will no longer say the pledge of allegiance in the morning. Since the announcement to parents on Tuesday, there has been a massive outcry. It’s made national news and Georgia leaders are weighing in.

CBS 46 investigated and found out it would be illegal for Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School to get rid of the pledge all together.

The TV station tried to ask the school about its new policy changing how the pledge is cited, but CBS 46 didn’t have much luck. School officials say students will continue to be asked to stand for the school’s Wolf Pack chant each morning.

The TV station tried calling, e-mailing, ringing the buzzer, and the front door to speak to the head of the school in Grant Park, but were asked to leave.

“Is there any way that we can talk to her?” reporter Kim Passoth asked.

“Not at this time,” she was told. “You are on private property. I need for you to go across the street.”

Parents like Kim Shashy say the pledge used to be recited during a school-wide morning meeting. Now, it’s being said later in the day in classrooms with teachers.

“I heard about it in a letter…I actually didn’t think much about it, I really didn’t,” said Shashy.

Elementary campus president Lara Zelski told parents it has become “increasingly obvious” during the past couple of years that more people were choosing not to stand or recite the pledge.

“What seems like it got completely blown out of proportion is that the school is getting rid of the pledge altogether, which in fact isn’t happening,” said Zelski.

Politicians like Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp weighed in, questioning if the school’s funding should be pulled.

Other people we talked to in the neighborhood also questioned the change.

“From growing up and doing that, that is very surprising to hear,” said John Perry.

“If they are going to put it in the afternoon, someone is going to get offended anyway,” said Samantha Franklin.

The governing board of the school did release a statement on their website Thursday in response to the controversy, saying there was “some miscommunication and inconsistency in the roll out.”

The complete statement is below:

The following statement is from Lia Santos, Board Chair, Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School (ANCS) Governing Board:

“Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School has and will continue to provide students with an opportunity to recite the Pledge of Allegiance each school day. 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 [O.C.G.A. 20-2-310 (c)(1)] 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.

At ANCS, our priority is to provide our students with a safe and dynamic learning environment where they cultivate a love for learning, develop self-knowledge, and are constantly challenged to excel. We support our students in their growth and see it as our duty as educators to respect their First Amendment rights.

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.”

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