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Friday, December 17, 2004

Teacher refuses to worship the state in the approved manner

Justice Robert H. Jackson wrote in West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette:

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.

What a load of un-American bullshit. It's a wonder that our nation survived Roosevelt's judicial appointments. I thank God that Our Leader will have an opportunity to shape the court. When that happens, school boards will be able to fire teachers like Dianne Dunfey in the name of the Glorious Conservative Christian Cultural Revolution.

The Hampton Union has the story:

A Pledge of Allegiance issue at the Seabrook Middle School has been dropped by the School Board, to the dissatisfaction of parents who turned out Monday night to protest one teacher’s refusal to stand during the morning recitation.
After the board said it could take no action to interfere in a teacher’s right to remain seated during the pledge, one parent initially asked if he could go inside of the homeroom and stand alongside students.

Parent Larry Imke made the request to Principal Stan Shupe on Tuesday, Imke said.

But, he said on Wednesday that he had withdrawn the request.

"I dropped it because basically I was told a memo would have to be put out to all of the teachers to see if it was all right for me to go in and state the pledge. He (Shupe) said any teacher could come back and say no."

Dianne Dunfey, the middle school homeroom and social studies teacher everyone was talking about Monday night but whom no one referred to by name, said of such a memo, "That exercise would be an affront."

Dunfey has been sitting out the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance for 18 years, she said on Wednesday. She thinks it has become an issue this year because it serves "a hidden agenda."

Dunfey declined to elaborate.

Though she declined to say this week and in past interviews why she has chosen to remain seated during the pledge, Dunfey said her reasons are "profoundly sincere and personal."

At no time, she said, has she tried to influence students to sit out the pledge.

Some students sit, while others stand, when the pledge is recited over the school’s loud speaker each morning, said Dunfey.

The practice has angered some parents, who have said they want teachers to set an example of standing during the pledge. A core group of a half dozen parents has asked the School Board for the past three months to take action to ensure all students stand.

The parents got their answer on Monday.

"Our hands are tied," said School Board Chairman Jon Moore.

Based on the advice of the board’s attorney, under the school’s policy as set by state and federal law, a teacher has the right to remain seated during the Pledge of Allegiance, said Moore. Any interference could be deemed as discrimination and subject to a lawsuit, he said.

"Our concern is her influencing our children," Imke said.

"I realize that," said Moore. "There’s nothing we can really do."

"There’s a lot of pressure on a kid," said parent Jason Bowley, "to be the only one standing up ...."

"If we were to take action, it would be discrimination on our part to do that," said School Board member Michelle Heywood.

"If we go any further with her it’s going to be another lawsuit," said board member Jim Fuller. "I’ll go out on a limb here. She knows how to play the game. I’d like to tell her how to operate, but I can’t do that."

Said parent Tonia Cruz: "We tell kids to pay attention to their teacher. Now, do we tell them, challenge that teacher?"

The board also cannot take the homeroom away from the teacher, said Fuller.

"As it stands now, the person has a homeroom. If we take it away from her, it’s discrimination. This has been an ongoing thing as far as I can remember, not just the Pledge of Allegiance."

A parent asked Michele Munson, assistant superintendent for School Administrative Unit 21, if this teacher was the only one in SAU 21 not standing for the pledge.

"I don’t have information to verify or not," Munson said.

"It would be discriminatory to give out job assignments based on anyone’s beliefs or preference," said Munson. "What’s important to all of us is to have the belief you have. You can’t say to someone who works for you, because you have a different belief, we’re going to treat you differently. In some ways (this would be) more heinous ..."

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