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McFeely: Fargo School Board president recommends reinstating Pledge of Allegiance before meetings

In memo, Tracie Newman says she doesn't want controversy to divert board resources away from preparing for school year

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Dr. Tracie Newman on June 9, 2020. Forum file photo
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FARGO — The president of the Fargo School Board will recommend the board reinstate the Pledge of Allegiance before each board meeting.

Dr. Tracie Newman sent a memo outlining her recommendation as a precursor to a special board meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at the district office, 700 7th St. S. She called for the meeting Monday to deal with the ongoing controversy of a recent board decision to not say the pledge prior to meetings.

"The action taken at the meeting was not to negate the Board’s support of patriotism, the love of one’s country or support of the flag of the United States," the memo said. "However, the amount of feedback has made it evident that correcting notions to comprehensively reflect Board decision will divert even more staff and Board time and resources away from preparing for the start of the 2022-2023 school year."

The memo concludes by saying Newman recommends the board "reinstate beginning each regularly scheduled meeting of the Fargo Board of Education with the Pledge of Allegiance immediately following the call to order."

The board last week voted 7-2 to rescind a decision the board made earlier this year requiring that the Pledge of Allegiance be recited at the start of each board meeting. Board members Robin Nelson and Nikkie Gullickson voted against rescinding the motion.

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The decision was met with derision from conservative media and, eventually, politicians. North Dakota Republican legislators are said to be furious with the school board, calling their decision unpatriotic and hinting at retaliation once the next legislative session in Bismarck begins in January.

On Monday, North Dakota Republican Gov. Doug Burgum announced plans to help craft legislation that will ensure students in public schools, as well as elected officials across the state, will be given the "opportunity to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and express support for the American ideals upon which our country was founded."

After Burgum's announcement, Newman set up a special school board meeting Thursday to discuss the pledge controversy.

In her memo, Newman acknowledged the blowback to the board's decision and cited "misinformation" in the controversy.

"Since the August 9 Board meeting, Board members and the District have received significant negative local and national feedback on the decision to not say the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of the Board’s regular meetings, appropriating time and resources from other District responsibilities," the memo said. "Further, a considerable amount of misinformation has been shared about the action and its reach into procedures in our schools. The Board of Education’s action at its August 9, 2022 meeting did not impact the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in our school buildings by students and staff nor did it change our recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance to remove the words 'under God.'"

This is a developing story. Check back to InForum.com for more.

Mike McFeely is a columnist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He began working for The Forum in the 1980s while he was a student studying journalism at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He's been with The Forum full time since 1990, minus a six-year hiatus when he hosted a local radio talk-show.
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