Michigan House passes Pledge of Allegiance bill; Saline schools to reconsider local policy - again
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
- Previous article: Saline Area Schools to draft Pledge of Allegiance policy
School board members may have jumped the gun Tuesday when they decided to re-engage in a discussion to mandate the Pledge of Allegiance at Saline Area Schools.
On Wednesday, the Michigan House of Representatives passed a bill requiring all classrooms in the state’s public schools to recite the Pledge of Allegiance each day.
The bill cleared the floor in a 103-5 vote. Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, was one of the five “no” votes. Other local legislators, Rep. Rick Olson, R-Saline; Rep. Mark Ouimet, R-Scio Township; and Rep. David Rutledge, D-Ypsilanti; all voted in favor of the bill.
Saline schools’ Policy Committee, comprised of school board trustees Todd Carter, David Holden and Chuck Lesch, met Wednesday night and discussed potential changes to the district’s “ceremonies and observances” policy.
Committee members agreed on changing the word “may” in the current policy to “shall.” The action, if approved by the full board, would require classrooms in Saline to participate in “patriotic exercises,” including the Pledge of Allegiance, at the start of each day — “or at another time designated by the building principal.”
It was not clear Friday what direction the Saline school board would elect to take — whether it would continue to pursue a local policy or wait and allow the state legislation to mandate the pledge.
The district’s attorney was expected to review the revised policy before the board potentially would vote on it at a meeting in October.
Holden, who has been the primary advocate for mandating the Pledge of Allegiance, brought up the issue at Tuesday’s regular school board meeting.
“In my recent conversations with legislators, I've been told the current legislation — what's been proposed — most likely is not going to be enacted this year,” Holden said Tuesday. “So I would like for us to take a look at that policy again.”
Holden said in an interview Friday he was “very surprised” to hear the legislation had passed. He joked maybe the board’s actions in Saline triggered Lansing’s speedy response. His recommendation, given the news, will be to “slow down and see how things unfold instead of putting time, resources and probably money, with the legal opinion, toward doing this on our own.”
The bill passed by the House Wednesday differs from the version that passed in the Senate in November, so the pledge bill will need to return to the Senate for a vote before it could be signed into law.
The House version still would prohibit schools from “compelling” a student to recite the pledge. The House entertained an amendment to the bill that would have required districts to notify parents and children annually of their right to object to saying the Pledge of Allegiance in class. That amendment failed by a voice vote, however, according to MichiganVotes.org.
Another bill related to patriotism in schools will be headed to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk soon for a signature.
This legislation requires all Michigan public schools to have an American flag displayed in each classroom and flown outside of the building. It passed in the House 102-6.