SHELTON, Wash. — Shelton School District Superintendent regrets agreeing to remove the Pledge of Allegiance from a school assembly honoring Native American activist Billy Frank, Jr. last week.
Dr. Alex Apostle said initially students asked to skip the National Anthem but that's not typically included in school assemblies. More than 150 students signed a petition calling for the National Anthem to be removed from the program.
“Yes, I understand that the National Anthem is supposed to promote “American Pride,” but the assembly is supposed to be honoring Billy Frank Jr. and by singing the National Anthem at a Native Holiday assembly you are putting the white man above the Native leader,” part of the petition read.
Instead, Apostle let the students skip the Pledge of Allegiance. He now regrets that decision.
“I take full responsibility for what took place,” Apostle said. He said the district did not have enough time to thoroughly discuss the issue.
Apostle said he was trying to be careful not to offend the Native American students who signed the petition.
“I was very concerned to respect them,” said Apostle. “Looking back, we would have done it completely different.”
Ruth Peterson, a sophomore at Shelton High School, was one of the petition organizers. She thought including the American pledge or songs would be disrespectful to Native Americans.
“I never really say the Pledge of Allegiance anyways,” said Peterson. “It says, all of this ‘home of the brave,’ I don’t feel like that’s true.”
Another sophomore, Josiah Sushak, was disappointed the district let the petition dictate what was included in the assembly without consulting other students.
“I think this is a very good example of political correctness going too far,” said Sushak. “I believe these public educators we have should be responsible to safeguard us from such ignorances, like maybe hearing both sides.”