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Home » Revised Pledge of Allegiance policy now in effect for Hilliard schools – The Columbus Dispatch

Revised Pledge of Allegiance policy now in effect for Hilliard schools – The Columbus Dispatch

By a 5-0 vote, Hilliard Board of Education members adopted a policy April 11 that makes voluntary daily recital of the Pledge of Allegiance part of the school program.
Superintendent David Stewart said the policy went into effect April 12.
It also requires the display of the American flag in each classroom.
The policy says the district cannot prevent a teacher from having students recite the pledge and altering the wording of the pledge is prohibited.
The policy also says people whose personal beliefs prohibit them from saying the pledge, saluting the flag or participating in “other opening exercises” are excused from doing so and adds, “The board prohibits the intimidation of any individual … aimed at coercing participation in reciting the pledge.”
The district had an existing policy, but Hilliard City Councilman Omar Tarazi, also a parent in the district, asked that it be revised.
“This will be submitted to the (Ohio School Boards Association) today,” Stacie Raterman, director of communications for Hilliard schools, said April 12.
Board President Nadia Long said the effort to craft policy language that had the support of the board was the “best collaboration in a long time.”
While she supported the policy, board member Kara Crowley said she took issue with its origin.
“I have no issue with the pledge, my issue is how it developed (because) it served a political agenda,” Crowley said. “I am happy that time and manner were left to the teachers.”
The policy was introduced at the March 14 board meeting and further discussed at a work session on March 31.
Board member Brian Perry also lauded the “collaborative and tireless” effort of the policy committee to come up with something the board could support that allowed for reciting the pledge and protected the choice not to participate.
The final policy allows the superintendent to choose how time is set aside for the pledge on a school-by-school basis.
The revised policy met the intended goal to create uniformity in the district, Tarazi said April 12.
“Standardizing the pledge and the flag in our classrooms is a very important step in celebrating our diversity and inclusion as a nation,” he said.
However, several people at the April 11 board meeting criticized the policy.
“You serve our kids, not a councilman with higher political aspirations,” Dawn Larsen told board members prior to the vote.
Lisa Chaffee, president of the Hilliard Area Republican Club and director of Ohio Parents Rights in Education, told ThisWeek on April 12 that Tarazi did not act alone.
“(Tarazi) worked with me and several others,” she said. “Together, we decided (this policy) was a good place to start to get character education back in the schools.”
Chaffee unsuccessfully campaigned for the school board last year.
John Osmundson, a veteran and a pastor, told the board reciting the pledge does not necessarily equate to patriotism. He suggested the district explore a program where students could interact with a local American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars post and learn from veterans.
“That would foster love and loyalty (of country),” he said.
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