One Dothan school board member said Monday he is concerned about what he believes is a disrespectful attitude toward the Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem in some school settings.
District 6 member Chris Maddox said he learned recently from one of his daughters at Northview High School that no students in a particular sophomore classroom were standing during the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. He said the report was relayed by his daughter, who told Maddox that after observing no one initially stand up, she stood up and “three or four others” followed suit.
“It concerns me as a parent that we are not standing for the Pledge of Allegiance,” Maddox said. “As a board member I am telling my fellow board members I am fully planning to investigate that because it troubles me.”
Maddox’s comments were made during Monday’s regularly scheduled board meeting. It was not immediately known at the board meeting whether school policy explicitly requires students to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, but Maddox said he would support such a requirement.
It is also unclear whether students can be required to participate. The Pledge of Allegiance has been the subject of numerous legal challenges over the past 25 years. Some challenges failed, such as multiple lawsuits that sought to have the words “under God” stricken from the Pledge. In Michigan in 2012, the state’s governor signed legislation requiring public school students to be given an opportunity each day to recite the pledge, but the students there can’t be required to participate. It also appears that some states require parental permission before a student is excused from reciting the pledge. A quick check of U.S. Supreme Court cases did not reveal any case dealing specifically with standing for the Pledge of Allegiance, but several appeals courts have ruled students can’t be forced to stand.
Maddox also said he was disappointed when he noticed a small percentage of those attending the recent Honors Day recognition for Northview reciting the Pledge and singing the National Anthem and school alma mater.
“All of these things have bothered me lately about our students not having pride in their country, in their state and in their schools specifically. I hope we can do something to change it because it’s just sad,” Maddox added.
Superintendent Dr. Phyllis Edwards said she had not heard any reports of students not standing for the Pledge until Maddox’s comments at the board meeting. She said she planned to investigate the matter.
“It is certainly not something I agree with either,” Edwards said.
Also Monday, a representative of the Alabama Education Association addressed the school board and said the system’s reduction in force of school personnel during the restructuring process was a concern.
“Every time we hear the term reduction in force, our ears are always perking up,” AEA representative LeBaron Mack said.
Edwards said the system’s reduction in force decisions were not taken lightly, but were fiscally responsible. Edwards said some teachers not renewed initially have been offered positions in the system due to other personnel announcing retirement.
» Edwards said about 200 students have taken advantage of the school choice portion of restructuring, which allows students to attend schools out-of-zone through an application process. She said other opportunities could arise next month, but not all schools would have room for movement.
» The board approved ordering band uniforms. The uniforms will reflect the school colors. Around 110 uniformed band members are anticipated, although the number could grow slightly.
» The board changed the June meeting date from June 17 to June 20.
Superintendent Edwards provided the following report to the board during Monday's meeting:
At this time of year, there are multiple items that must be provided to the Board for action. Many of these items are personnel related. For this reason, we often try to have an additional meeting in April or May to handle the postings and requests.I am providing the Board and the public with another Task List or To Do List for the month of May. As you can see, we continue to work to ensure that we will be ready for the upcoming school year and changes so that teachers and students have a seamless opening for the 2019-2020 school year.We will be moving technology, furniture, books and materials in the summer and are thankful to WIRED for taking the Dothan City Schools on as their summer project. We are thankful for other community partners that are helping with particular schools.Professional development is planned for all teachers this summer. Teachers at the secondary level will receive A+ training and specifics on the courses they will teach. Elementary teachers will work to learn as much as possible about the Signatures of their schools.By May, the Choice portion of the plan should be completed. Each Principal provided the number of openings. Times and dates for the lottery drawings (if necessary) as well as the forms have been placed on the websites. Principals are handling all the details at their schools. Please remember that Carver is not in this “choice” process because all the students have already been placed according to their standardized math scores. Once a parent has been told that their child(ren) can attend the choice school, they will not have to resubmit and application each year.We will continue to bring you requests to advertise for bids or awards of various projects related to the 15 million dollar bond, that you approved months ago. Our intention is to continue to move as carefully but quickly as possible because so much needs to be attended to at the schools before schools starts. We have environmental issues, roof issues, water drainage issues and must also get ready for changes to buildings for the upcoming school year. In this endeavor, we are also looking at things like signs and marquis as well as playground equipment.The courses are being set. At this time, it is my understanding that next year, the AP courses have nearly tripled. We continue to work on providing CTE offerings and making sure that we have strong JROTC programs, band and sports programs. This month, I will ask the Board to provide the upfront funding for the band uniforms. This will be about $100,000 and we are working with the boosters to assist us in this effort. It takes quite a bit of time for uniforms to be ordered and arrive so we need to make sure that we can expend the funds in a timely manner.The system is working on the instructional horizon to ensure that we are consistent on materials used at each school. For some time now, I have been concerned that there is not a systemic process in place for instruction. Along these lines, the staff has also worked very hard to review existing documents related to pupil progression at the elementary and secondary levels. The Board will have documents and details to review in June. This information will greatly assist parents and students with their walk through the various grade levels until graduation.Graduation for both schools is set for the Civic Center. Please mark the dates of May 21st for Northview at 7:00 pm and May 22nd for Dothan High at 7:00 pm. Board Members can talk with Laurie about gowns.The Retirement Ceremony is at the Botanical Gardens and you should receive an E Invite to the event. It will be held on May 30th at 4:30. It is very nice when the Board is present to thank the retirees for their efforts.I will ask the Board to approve the posting of a Director for Career Technical Education. You will remember that when I came to Dothan City, CTE was a clear priority for me in terms of providing the students with a focus for the future. I am thankful to the Wiregrass Foundation Executive Director and Board for their willingness to fund a major portion of a CTE Director salary. They are willing to provide funding for the system for a three-year period. This will give us a chance to focus on the vision, plan and to begin implementing a CTE Program that meets the needs of students and industry. I am also thankful to the Dothan Chamber of Commerce for allowing me to present to their membership but also for their willingness to be a partner with Dothan City in this endeavor. It takes an entire community getting behind a school system to make the changes necessary to put our students in first place; providing education and quality support.Principals will continue to host professional development and training for teachers over the spring and the summer. The system should be very proud of the efforts to provide PD in each Signature and A+ Training for all teachers. This cost is extensive and estimated to be upwards of half a million dollars-funded mostly through federal sources. The school system will pay stipends and will pay for lodging and travel. I certainly hope that all educators will take advantage of this opportunity for continued professional development.I am pleased to announce that I am recommending Mr. James Williams and the new Principal at Beverlye Intermediate. If you approve the recommendation, Mr. Williams will continue to provide leadership and enthusiasm in his new position. We welcome James to his new position as the school principal. He leaves Selma Street where he was the Assistant Principal. He will work with Vanessa Gunn and Maria Johnson over the next few months and beyond.This is a time for celebrations. Many of our students are in competitions and are doing quite well. Several of our CTE students have won competitions in their areas of study. I hope to have a Spotlight, highlighting these students. At my request, after meeting with Business people at the Chamber of Commerce a few months ago, a Job Fair was held at Northview for both Northview and Dothan Seniors. Many businesses were in attendance and our students came prepared to provide their resumes and have interviews as well as hear what the possibilities were for jobs in Dothan. I have asked for a Spotlight to tell you about this event during the May Board Meeting.At your request, the start and end times have been adjusted. Jay worked to tighten the schedule in the afternoons. Elementary times 7:40-2:30; High School 8:10-3:10; Dothan Prep 8:30-3:40; reducing the gap by 30 minutes. Only the afternoon times have changed.