Jacksonville teacher removed from classroom over Pledge of Allegiance message to students

Jacksonville teacher removed from classroom over Pledge of Allegiance message to students

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A First Coast High School teacher, who allegedly wrote a message on a classroom board reprimanding students who don't stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, has been removed from the classroom.

Duval County Public Schools said it learned of the teacher's statement on Wednesday afternoon.

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"The message included historical references including slavery, the right for women to vote and the election of a black president. It also referenced the fact that the superintendent of the school district is black. It was implied in the statement that students who fail to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance lack maturity," DCPS said in a news release.

The statements made by the teacher are not consistent with state statute or school board policy, DCPS said:

"Florida Statute 1003.44 and Board Policy 3.60 permit students to be excused from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, to include standing, if the student's parent or legal guardian files a written request with the school principal.  The ability for students to be excused is also included in the Code of Student Conduct.  Specifically, the statement below is included in the Code of Student Conduct:
•    Pursuant to Florida Statutes, students have the right not to participate in reciting the pledge. Upon written request by his or her parent, a student must be excused from reciting the pledge, including standing and placing the right hand over his or her heart."

The school has referred the matter to the district's Office of Professional Standards for review.

FCHS Principal Justin Fluent released the following statement:

"I believe classrooms provide the perfect place to have insightful and thought-provoking discussions about patriotic expressions and civil liberty. However, this must be done in a productive and respectful way, and in accordance with law and school board policy."

The white board message was written by Jacksonville teacher Daniel Goodman in an effort to convince his homeroom students to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. It references the Civil War, slavery, segregation, women's voting rights, and more.

Action News Jax Reporter Ryan Nelson spoke to Goodman by phone tonight.

While he declined a phone interview to be used for broadcast, Goodman said he did not intend to offend anyone.

He tells us none of his homeroom students stood for the pledge in the first two days of school, and that prompted him to share his perspective on what he considered signs of progress throughout American history.

Goodman tells us two of his homeroom students stood after he wrote the message.

Nelson also spoke to the mother of the girl who took a picture of what was written on the board. She tells us her daughter is not in Goodman's homeroom class, but attends his class later in the school day.

"The message basically was targeting black kids and women," she said.

She asked not to be identified. While she tells us her daughter does stand for the pledge, she found Goodman's words concerning, and sent the photo to her mother.

The mother believes there is a place for a discussion of social issues in the classroom, but felt his message wasn't properly conveyed to students.

"That was just very, very, poor communication," she said. "Especially to the black kids, and especially to the women, or the young ladies, in that class."

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