On Thursday, Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School (ANCS) reported they would no longer say the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of their school day. Various reports from Atlanta news media and press releases from the charter school created a series miscommunications to stakeholders.
According to local news reports, the elementary campus president Lara Zelski told parents it has become “increasingly obvious” that more people were choosing not to stand and say the pledge. Also, the school stated that schools would continue to stand to participate in the school’s “Wolf Pack Chant” each morning.
Georgia Speaker of the House, David Ralston, sent out a statement of disapproval about the Atlanta charter school stance on not saying the pledge as it was first reported by local media.
“The Pledge of Allegiance speaks of America as ‘one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’ Seeing a taxpayer-funded school devalue those ideals is disappointing and disturbing. While I respect individual freedom of speech, I question the wisdom of administrators making our Pledge of Allegiance secondary to a school chant and rewriting our Pledge. I find it completely unbelievable that someone could have thought this was a good idea. I’m sure our House Education Committee will examine whether taxpayer funds should be used to instill such a divisive ideology in our students,” said Speaker David Ralson.
GOP nominee for Georgia Governor, Brian Kemp, weighed in with a press release statement:
“There’s no question about it. Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is the right thing to do,” said Kemp. “At school, students should stand united to honor the flag, our country, and those who have sacrificed for our freedom.
The Atlanta charter school released the following statement on Thursday afternoon to clarify their participation in the pledge:
“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.”