Here’s yet another story of a public school student being punished by the school over the pledge of allegiance, but there’s a twist. He didn’t refuse to say it, he only refused to say “under God.” And he wasn’t part of a group saying it, he had to say it in front of the class.
Derek Giardina, 17, says he’s been given detention and docked points after omitting the reference to God, and the school district is standing by its decision.
Tracy Unified School District says it respects everyone’s religious beliefs, or lack thereof, but say if you’re going to lead the school in the pledge, you better say it in the traditional way.
Giardina says he went along with his speech and debate class assignment to lead West High Schoolin the pledge.
“Personally I wouldn’t say the pledge at all, because I’m not necessarily very patriotic, and I’m not religious,” he said.Everyone in the class is required to do it 12 times a year. He read the 1954 version his first two times. But on his third he felt it necessary to remove the line “under god” from his reading, simply skipping over it and reciting the pledge as it was before the 1954 amendment during the Cold War…
District spokesman Sam Strube says while school leaders respect all students’ rights not to say the pledge, Giardina was disciplined because the reading was an assignment.
“A public forum where you’re going to represent the school is not a place where you can voice a controversial issue and force that on other people,” he said.
Strube says if students didn’t want to do the assignment, there was an alternative offered.
“Students are given that choice, and so if you’re representing the school and you’re reading the announcements to the class, you can be graded on how well you read the announcements,” he said.
I’d be curious to know what the alternative assignment was. That may be the key to whether there’s a real legal case here.