North Dakota school board reinstates oath of allegiance

FARGO, ND (AP) — The school board in North Dakota’s most populous city reversed course Thursday on its decision to stop reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at its monthly meetings, following complaints from the governor conservative and state lawmakers as well as widespread denigration of citizens around the country.

Seven of nine members of the Fargo Board of Education, including four newcomers who took office in June, voted last week to remove a former board…

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FARGO, ND (AP) — The school board in North Dakota’s most populous city reversed course Thursday on its decision to stop reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at its monthly meetings, following complaints from the governor conservative and state lawmakers as well as widespread denigration of citizens around the country.

Seven of nine members of the Fargo Board of Education, including four newcomers who took office in June, voted last week to overturn a previous executive order of the board that had been approved months before the election. The new board agreed with member Seth Holden, who said the pledge didn’t align with the district’s diversity and inclusion code, in part because the phrase “under God” doesn’t not include all faiths.

Republican North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum earlier this week promoted new legislation that would require public schools and governing bodies to administer the pledge without requiring people to recite it. Republican State Rep. Pat Heinert, a retired county sheriff, suggests penalties be put in place for public boards and commissions that do not require the Patriotic Oath.

Nasty emails and voicemails dominated Thursday’s special meeting to reconsider the vote. Nyamal Dei, a refugee who fled war-torn Sudan, released a profane voicemail from a man who called her a slave, a racist and a Nazi. Several council members apologized to Dei, the council’s only black member, for suffering the worst abuse.

Dei said backing off on the decision would be giving in to hatred. She paused for several seconds before voting the only no to restore the promise.

“We will not reward our children or students in our district for acting in this way,” Dei said. “But know that this moment will pass. Let’s get back to the job we are elected to do, which is to find a solution to our teacher shortages, mental health issues and the academic success of our students.

City of Fargo spokesman Gregg Schildberger said police are “currently investigating a handful of reports related to perceived threats” against at least three council members.

Board member Greg Clark said he broke down his angry posts and found that less than 20% came from outside Fargo. He admitted that his vote to bring back the pledge was directly influenced by people he does not represent.

“But I hope you will forgive me because I truly believe it is in the best interests of our schools to do so.” said Clark. “The disruptions and threats must stop so that we can have a successful return to school.”

Holden, who proposed the removal of the pledge, said he struggled with his decision but was heartbroken by the mean-spirited comments and worried about the board’s image.

“I’m also concerned about what might happen to this council in the future, because we’ll probably have to be prepared to take more heat than we normally do for the decisions we make,” he said, “because there can be a perception of success.

Public comment was not allowed during the special meeting, which was attended by about two dozen citizens. A handful of them clapped after the vote. One of them, Vietnam veteran David Halcrow, apologized to Dei after the meeting.

“What was done to him…those people must be in the clink,” said Halcrow, who had a walking cast on his lower left leg and walked with a cane. “If it was me, they’d be in jail. There is no excuse for this stuff.

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