A North Dakota school board has decided to reinstate the Pledge of Allegiance after first deciding to scrap it.
As reported by The Associated Press, members of the Fargo Board of Education in the state’s most populous city initially decided to stop reciting the pledge at monthly meetings. But after complaints from GOP Gov. Doug Burgum and conservative lawmakers as well as Americans all over the country, the board decided to reinstate it.
Last week, seven of nine board members, four of whom took office in June, initially voted to ditch a previous board decision approved a few months before members’ elections. “The new board agreed with member Seth Holden, who said the pledge did not align with the district’s diversity and inclusion code in part because the phrase ‘under God’ does not include all faiths,” The AP noted.
The reversal comes after Burgum promoted new legislation earlier in the week that requires public schools and governing entities to administer the pledge without requiring that people actually recite it. State Rep. Pat Heinert, a former county sheriff who is now retired, has recommended putting sanctions in place for publicly-elected commissions and boards that do not require the oath.
The AP adds:
The nasty emails and voicemails dominated Thursday’s special meeting to reconsider the vote. Nyamal Dei, a refugee who fled war-torn Sudan, played a profanity-laced voicemail from a man who called her a slave, racist and Nazi. Several board members apologized to Dei, the lone Black member on the board, for taking the worst of the abuse.
Dei said walking back the decision would be giving in to hate. She paused for several seconds before casting the lone no vote to reinstate the pledge.
“We won’t be rewarding our children or students in our district for acting in this way,” Dei said, according to the AP. “But know that this moment will pass. Let’s get back to the work that we are elected to do and that is to find a solution to our teacher shortages, mental health issues academic achievement for our students.”
Gregg Schildberger, a spokesman for the city of Fargo, with a population of more than 105,500, told the AP that police “are currently investigating a handful of reports related to perceived threats” to at least three members of the board.
The AP noted that Greg Clark, one of the school board’s members, said that less than 20 percent of the angry messages he got came from outside the city, though he strangely admitted that his vote to bring the pledge back was influenced directly by people he doesn’t represent.
“But I hope you’ll forgive me because I truly believe it is in the best interest of our schools to do so.” Clark said. “The disruptions and the threats must end so that we can have a successful start to our school year.”
Holden, who introduced the initial motion to ditch the pledge, said he had difficulty with his decision to reinstate it but added that he was upset by the mean comments he and others received while also worrying about the board’s image, the AP reported.
“I’m also concerned about what might happen to this board in the future because we’re going to have to probably be prepared to take more heat than we normally do for decisions that we make, because that there may be a perception of success,” he said, the newswire reported.