The Lafayette Parish School System is taking steps to address concerns about its policy on students reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The district received a letter last week from the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Legal Center. David Niose is legal director of this Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit. He says the letter tries to call attention to the right of students to opt out of reciting the pledge.
“It’s all too common that teachers interpret a student opting out of the pledge as being somehow disrespectful or unpatriotic. That is totally the perception of the teacher. More often than not, kids who opt out of the Pledge of Allegiance are thinkers,” Niose said.
The AHA’s Legal Center acted after being contacted by an Acadiana High student who alleged repeated harassment by a teacher when the student attempted to remain seated during the pledge and not recite it. Niose says the student sought clarification from school administrators who weren’t sympathetic.
“It’s one thing for a teacher to be misunderstanding of a situation and doing the wrong thing. Mistakes happen, and that’s fine. But when this student actually went to the administration and found even more problems rather than solutions, we really felt this kid needed help right away,” Niose said.
Superintendent Donald Aguillard said the policy will be reviewed by the Lafayette Parish School Board next month. Officials are considering removing a requirement that students stand during the pledge, even if they do not recite it.