ATLANTA -- An Atlanta charter school is now walking back a plan regarding the Pledge of Allegiance that quickly gained national attention.
According to a newly released statement from Lia Santos, the Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School board chair, the school will be returning to its original format of letting students say the Pledge during the morning meeting.
Santos said the original plan was merely to move the process from the morning meeting to individual classrooms and create a written policy - putting the school in compliance with a state law that requires one.
However, it wasn't that process that drew so much controversy.
According to a letter to students and families from Lara Zelinski, elementary campus principal at Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School, "students will continue to lead the meeting by asking our community to stand to participate in our Wolf Pack Chant together."
In her letter, Zelinski said the decision was made "in an effort to begin our day as a fully inclusive and connected community. Over the past couple of years, it has become increasingly obvious that more and more of our community were choosing to not stand and/or recite the pledge. There are many emotions around this and we want everyone in our school family to start their day in a positive manner."
From there, local and national news agencies picked up the story. But Santos said that this wasn't the actual plan and that "there was some miscommunication and inconsistency in the rollout."
"In the past, the Pledge of Allegiance was recited during our all-school morning meeting," she said. "But at the start of the school year, the daily practice was moved to classrooms."
With the move back to the previous plan, students will be afforded the opportunity to say the pledge but will not be required to.
"We support our students in their growth and see it as our duty as educators to respect their First Amendment rights," Santos said.
The entire statement is below:
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.