Tuesday July 23, 2013

ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. (AP) -- Classrooms in St. Johnsbury schools are not required to hang an American flag and make time for the Pledge of Allegiance, but students and staff who are uncomfortable may opt out of reciting the pledge.

School Director Tony Greenwood proposed installing flags in each classroom and offering the pledge of allegiance. He said it would instill in students a sense of patriotism, leadership, loyalty, pride and worth.

He also proposed moments of silence in classrooms that could be used as prayer, but school officials rejected that idea out of fears of a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union.

"Aren’t we allowed to push the ACLU?" Greenwood said last week during a regular school board meeting. "I’m not afraid to blaze a trail."

School Director Rob Mach said it was foolish to challenge the ACLU, which would cost thousands of dollars in legal fees that would be better spent on students.

"It’s about the children, Tony," said Mach.

Vermont is one of a handful of states that don’t require the pledge to be recited in public schools. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that students and teachers may not be compelled to participate even in states that require it.