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Pledge of Allegiance Debate Divides NY School District


An upstate New York school board is convening Tuesday evening and will hear community residents' concerns about the district's current policy regarding the Pledge of Allegiance.

The controversy has grown in the North Collins school district and left some casualties in its wake, including Rosemarie Tridle who prides herself on being very patriotic and resigned from her two-year post on the school board in protest on October 26.

At issue is how students in North Collins Elementary School are reciting the Pledge at the start of each school day. Currently, morning announcements are broadcast over the school's intercom system and are immediately followed by a recitation of the school's "character pledge."

But when it comes to reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, only the first few words of the Pledge are recited by the announcer.

"From that point forward, the student [announcer] cuts out and each individual classroom continues with the full Pledge (of Allegiance) in their own classroom at their own pace," North Collins Central Schools Superintendent Ben Halsey told WKBW. "So that kindergartners can say it at the rate and speed and understanding that they are capable of.  And the sixth graders who are in the building can say it at the rate and the pace and the understanding that they are capable of," he said.

But Triodl disagrees. "If this can be said as a group (referring to the Character Pledge), there is no excuse that our Pledge of Allegiance cannot be said as a group," Triodl argues.  "I'm 50 years old. The way it was taught to us, we stood as a group. The entire school stood as a group when we said it, and I didn't understand every single word, but I grew to learn it," she told WIVB.

Regarding her resignation from the school board, Triodl says, "I can't be a part of a group that in my opinion does not respect the flag."

Tridl is not not alone in her concern; over 250 people have signed a petition demanding that the school district read the Pledge of Allegiance in full each morning over the school's P.A. system.

During a school board meeting planned for Tuesday evening, these upset residents planned to convey their concerns. "We are listening and we have given a lot of time to this issue. And we are not just casting it aside saying we are going to do it a certain way," Superintendent Halsey says.

In the meantime, a school district committee is reportedly "studying the policy" and is expected to submit its own recommendations to the superintendent by the end of the month.

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