Standing during the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance is a required ritual for every American. We’ve been raised to salute the flag and support the country and we’re proud to do that. But recently, we’ve heard many stories of people refusing to do so. Such a teacher at a New Jersey middle school started off a firestorm debate after she “habitually” knelt during the morning recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

The incident occurred at Sgt. Dominick Pilla Middle School, according to the Daily Journal. The teacher, whose identity has not been made public, took  a knee during the school’s the Pledge of Allegiance, which took place during homeroom. According to the Daily Journal, it was not the first time either. Earlier in October, parents complained about the teacher’s behavior during a school board meeting of Vineland Public Schools.

Ron Maccri, a Vineland resident, told the school board: “Teachers are paid to educate our students, they’re not paid to indoctrinate our students.” He used the word “reprehensible” to describe the female teacher’s action, believing that what the female teacher was doing would be bad in any school, especially in the (Sgt.) Dominick Pilla School—who gave his life while in the military.

Randy London, another resident, is a U.S. Coast Guard veteran. He said he felt offended and there should not be any teacher taking a knee during the Pledge of Allegiance.

After the incident, many parents voiced their displeasure, saying the teacher’s silent protest was inappropriate for a middle school setting and was agenda-driven, according to the Philly Voice.

On Tuesday, Oct. 8, Pilla school Principal Ismael Bermudez reassigned the teacher away from conducting homeroom.

Joseph Rossi, the district’s executive director of personnel, told The Daily Journal the teacher “has not indicated anything ‘political’ about her views,” but both the district and the teacher agree that this is a reasonable solution for all parties. 

“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,” Luo Russo, president of the Vineland Education Association, said. “We requested a legal opinion from our state affiliate and await its findings.”

In another scenario, Tom Ulrich, board vice president, sided with the parents. He also used the word “reprehensible” for the teacher’s action. The vice president, who considered himself a patriot,  pointed out that  teachers should follow the curriculum and “should not be imparting their own personal views—political, religious, anything, upon a student.”

“If they don’t want to salute the flag and stand up and not pledge the Pledge of Allegiance, that’s one thing,” Ulrich said. “But I think to impart their views on impressionable young children, is also, I’ll use your term, reprehensible. It sets a bad tone.”

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