The Madison Metropolitan School Board is reconsidering its controversial ban of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools.
After receiving criticism from around the country, the board will meet Monday to ensure Madison schools comply with a state law that requires them to offer either the pledge or the national anthem daily.
Board member Bill Keys, who was personally criticized for writing a policy that banned the pledge and offered only an instrumental version of the national anthem in schools beginning Oct. 8, said the state statute is vague.
“The law says schools shall offer the pledge or the national anthem,” Keys said. “It doesn’t say [the pledge] or that the words [of the national anthem] have to be played.”
The board, including Keys, said it was not their intention to ban the pledge, but rather to protect students’ and staff’s individual right to not participate in the activity if they did not want to.
Keys said the source of concern from citizens around the country is that the pledge is being defamed.
“What bothers people is that the pledge is not an institutional practice,” he said. “But my motion was not denigrating the pledge.”
Nearly all the 17,000-plus phone calls and e-mails the board received last week denounced its decision, and parents and veterans plan to show up en masse to the meeting to express their anger with the decision.
The board said it knows it must respond to these complaints.
“Clearly the board needs to reconsider the unintended interpretations of the action and determine a way of implementing the spirit and intent of the state law while ensuring that all people have the right to express their own beliefs and values in an appropriate way,” the School Board said in a statement.
Madison schools will continue to offer either the pledge or the national anthem daily, as state law directs.