Education

Legislator wants $1,500 fine for Pledge of Allegiance ‘violations’

State Rep. William Shirley, R-Quitman, has sponsored a bill that levies a $1,500 fine on any school that doesn’t recite the Pledge of Allegiance within the first hour of class each school day.
State Rep. William Shirley, R-Quitman, has sponsored a bill that levies a $1,500 fine on any school that doesn’t recite the Pledge of Allegiance within the first hour of class each school day.

A Mississippi legislator has sponsored a bill that levies a $1,500 fine on any school that doesn’t recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag within the first hour of class each school day.

Rep. William Shirley, a Republican whose District 84 covers Clark, Jasper and Newton counties, wants to amend Section 37-13-6 of the Mississippi Code of 1972. The code provides stipulations on the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools and when, where and how to present the flag on school grounds.

Shirley’s update would tack on a $1,500 fine for any “violation” of the code, although the bill says “any student or teacher who objects to reciting the oath of allegiance shall be excused from participating without penalty.”

According to Shirley’s House Bill 205, “The failure of any school or school district to require the teachers under their control to have all pupils repeat the oath of allegiance ... shall result in the school or district being assessed a fine for such violation. Any school district found not to be in compliance ... shall be fined in an amount of $1,500 for each violation.”

The mother of a West Harrison High School student said her son was threatened with disciplinary actions for refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance at school in October. Harrison County School District Superintendent Roy Gill said it was a misunderstanding.

School districts found in violation will be required to pay the fine 30 days from the date of the notice of violation.

If approved, the bill would take effect July 1.

Justin Vicory: 228-896-2326, @justinvicory

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