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Teacher 'habitually' takes a knee during Pledge of Allegiance. It doesn't go unnoticed: Teachers aren't 'paid to indoctrinate our students'

Way to make a statement

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

A New Jersey middle school reassigned a teacher after the unidentified educator "habitually" kneeled during the morning recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, which took place during homeroom.

The incidents took place at Sgt. Dominick Pilla Middle School, according to the Daily Journal. The school was named after a U.S. Army Ranger who died during a 1993 mission in Somalia.

What are the details?

The teacher kicked off a firestorm of debate after she began kneeling during the school's recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Many parents believed that the teacher's silent protest was inappropriate for the middle school setting and agenda-driven, according to the Philly Voice.

The Voice pointed out that partisan political behavior is prohibited on school premises and during school hours.

Earlier in October, parents complained about the teacher's behaviors during a school board meeting of Vineland Public Schools.

Resident Ron Maccri said, "Teachers are paid to educate our students, they're not paid to indoctrinate our students. What this woman is doing would be bad in any school, but because it's in the (Sgt.) Dominick Pilla School — who gave his life for our military — it's reprehensible."

Another resident, Randy London — a U.S. Coast Guard veteran — also voiced his displeasure during the early October meeting.

"That type of behavior offends me," London said. "I'm not saying anyone needs to agree with everything, but if that is the district's policy, there should be no teacher … taking a knee during the Pledge of Allegiance."

What happened after the meeting?

Lou Russo, president of the Vineland Education Association, said that students could stand to learn from the teacher's missteps.

"It would be one thing if [the teacher] was proselytizing to kids that you can't stand, or you shouldn't stand for this reason, but she's not doing that," Russo insisted, pointing out that teachers themselves cannot force students to stand for the pledge anyway.

The district determined the teacher's fate on Tuesday: Pilla school Principal Ismael Bermudez reassigned the teacher away from conducting homeroom.

"Like all principals, Mr. Bermudez has the authority to utilize his building staff as appropriate," Joseph Rossi, who is the district's executive director personnel, added. "The district and the teacher agree that this is a reasonable solution for all parties."

Russo said that the school deployed what they believe was a reasonable accommodation for the teacher.

“It is a reasonable compromise that balances a school employee's free exercise of their religion versus a parent's concern of how that free exercise may influence their child," Russo said. “We requested a legal opinion from our state affiliate and await its findings."

The Voice also reported that the teacher defended her First Amendment rights and insisted that her actions were not politically motivated.

One last thing…
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