November 11, 2010

Pledge Allegiance Controversy at Elementary School in North Collins, NY

Buffalo Newsroom
written by Barbara O'Brien
Wednesday November 10, 2010 9:58am

North Collins Elementary School students will continue saying the Pledge of Allegiance with their classes, but will not hear the entire pledge recited over the public address system.

The School Board Tuesday night heard pleas from the public for a second consecutive meeting to have the entire pledge recited over the school intercom, instead of just the first six words: "I pledge allegiance to the flag. ..."

But the board said it sets the policy that is carried out by the administration, and the practice follows board policy and New York State Education Law.

"The board does not tell the professionals in the school how to run day-to-day [operations]," Board President Richard Foster said.

"No one's denying the fact they say it," said resident Misty Fallon. "All we're asking is for it to be said over the PA system." The controversy erupted at the board's Oct. 26 meeting, when board member Rosemarie Troidl announced her resignation during the meeting -- and walked out.

Troidl, who sat in the audience during the meeting but did not speak publicly, said residents have been coming to the board and asking that the full pledge be recited over the public address system. She said she decided she did not want to be part of a board that did not listen to residents.

"It's not that the kids aren't saying it," she said. "Why can't they recite the pledge as a school?"

The beginning of the pledge is read over the intercom in the morning. Then, the children in each classroom recite the remainder of the pledge at their own pace, which generally is slower for first-graders than it is for sixth-graders.

Troidl and others note that the full 68-word "Character Pledge" is read in full to students.

"They just want the Pledge of Allegiance to have the same respect," Troidl said.

More than two-dozen residents attended Tuesday's work session of the board, the first meeting since Troidl's resignation. Supporters said they also turned in petitions with 250 signatures in favor of changing the way the pledge is recited.

Most felt the School Board should step in and order the entire pledge recited on the intercom, but veteran Lloyd Quiter said members of American Legion Post 1640 and William R. Dils Sr. Post 199, Veterans of Foreign Wars, met and do not have a problem with the current system.

"This is a non-battle. Come on folks," he said. "These kids are learning the Pledge correctly. It's more important they learn it, not recite it."

Board President Foster also recalled that in 1950 he was looking forward to entering college, when North Korean invaded South Korea. Instead of college, he enlisted in the Navy, taking an oath to serve his country.

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