Virginia school offering permission slip to ‘opt out’ of saying pledge of allegiance

ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — An image of a permission slip given out to Rockingham County students who wish to be exempt from standing to say the pledge of allegiance recently stirred up controversy on social media.

8News affiliate WHSV was contacted about the permission slip, which when signed, allows students in the area to opt out of saying the pledge each morning.

The picture was shared on Snapchat with the caption: “I seriously cannot believe what America is coming to. There is a permission slip to not stand for the pledge…”

WHSV spoke with the Rockingham County Assistant Superintendent who said that the permission slip is only given to students who have an approved reason for opting out, as described in the Code of Virginia.

The slip’s purpose is to allow the student’s parent to agree that the student will not be saying the pledge for religious, philosophical or other reasons.

The option to do this is guaranteed by the Code of Virginia in § 22.1-202, which says “no student shall be compelled to recite the Pledge if he, his parent or legal guardian objects on religious, philosophical or other grounds to his participating in this exercise.”

The Virginia Department of Education Director of Communications, Charles Pyle said that not every school system has such a permission slip to allow kids to opt out of the pledge.

However, he also said the rule is not a new one.

While the Code of Virginia says that students must recite the pledge daily, the rule was amended due to a 1943 Supreme Court ruling that students cannot be forced to say the pledge because of the reasons mentioned above

To view the applicable section of the Code of Virginia, click here.

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