Town wrestles with Pledge of Allegiance

April 13, 2011 at 2:43 PM
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BROOKLINE, Mass., April 13 (UPI) -- A Boston suburb is embroiled in a dispute about saying the Pledge of Allegiance in its public schools.

The policy approved last week by the Brookline School Committee requires the recitation of the pledge once a week in all K-8 schools. School officials said they were trying to find a policy that would meet both the state mandate on the pledge and court rulings banning students or staff members from being forced to say it, The Boston Globe reported Tuesday.

The school committee specifically said no student is required to join in, but those who do not must maintain a respectful silence. At the same time, the committee said children who do recite the pledge must not make fun of or harass those who do not.

The pledge became an issue when Gerardo Martinez, principal of Devotion School, one of the eight K-8 schools, sent parents a letter in December. He said the Pledge of Allegiance, which had not been recited at Devotion for about five years, would be said voluntarily once a week.

Brookline, a liberal enclave in one of the most liberal states and the hometown of former Gov. Michael Dukakis, who was accused of lack of patriotism when he ran for president in 1988, became a target on conservative blogs.

Parents and other residents have lined up on both sides. Katie Tagliavia said she found it "horrifying" that most of the girls in her Scout troop did not know the pledge, while Martin Rosenthal, a former selectman and father of a Devotion student, said he does not see any educational value in reciting it.

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