A teacher at Sgt. Dominick Pilla Middle School in Vineland, New Jersey has been reassigned to another job, all because she peacefully protests the Pledge of Allegiance. The reassignment isn’t as drastic as it sounds, but it may also be an overreaction by the district.
The teacher’s name hasn’t been released to the public — I was able to figure out who it was, but she hasn’t responded to a request for comment. That didn’t stop several parents from complaining about her during a school board meeting a week ago. You can hear the objections at 49:00 and 50:40 below.
Among the whiners were war veterans who felt that their service gave them the right to demand the school district completely ignore the First Amendment. Resident Ron Maccri (in the second video) said that taking a knee during the Pledge was “bringing a political agenda” into the classroom… apparently unaware that saying the Pledge is also a useless act of faux-patriotism. They’re both political. Saying the Pledge isn’t neutral. Maccri also said that the teacher was indoctrinating students by not standing for the ritual… even though standing up for it, thereby pressuring other students to do the same, creates the exact same problem.
Saying the Pledge is a political act. Protesting the Pledge is a political act. You don’t get to have one with the other. That applies to both students and teachers. This isn’t complicated unless you’re a conservative who thinks refusing to participate in a meaningless ritual is an act of blasphemy.
Both men have no clue what they’re talking about and should have been summarily ignored.
Instead, the school board caved. They settled on a “compromise” that results in the teacher not being able to protest the Pledge because she won’t be around students during the Pledge.
Pilla school Principal Ismael Bermudez “reassigned homeroom oversight so the teacher would have alternate duties during opening announcements,” Rossi said when contacted on Tuesday.
“Like all principals, Mr. Bermudez has the authority to utilize his building staff as appropriate,” Rossi said. “The district and the teacher agree that this a reasonable solution for all parties.”
The VEA agreed.
“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,” the union president Lou Russo said. “We requested a legal opinion from our state affiliate and await its findings.”
What they did may be legal. And if the teacher’s okay with it, so be it. But it shouldn’t have been necessary, and it still leaves open the door for further complications if other teachers dare to do the same thing.
In the district’s defense, New Jersey has a law requiring schools to say the Pledge. No one has to participate, but the law does require everyone to stand during it. That’s the sort of law that can and should be challenged by someone. (Better yet, the Democratic-led government should write legislation making standing during the Pledge also optional.)
The school board evaded that issue entirely by just having the teacher do something else during that block of time. It ignores the issue without addressing it. It’s a cop-out. Nothing will change unless more courageous students and teachers follow this rebel’s lead.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)