The Dexter school board discusses the Pledge of Allegiance of the United States

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A recent look outside Bates School in Dexter.

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

In response to community requests, the Dexter Community Schools (DCS) Board of Education talked about this pledge at their July 18 meeting and discussed whether or not to say the Pledge of Allegiance of the United States prior to meetings.

In the board’s meeting packet, there was an executive summary for this discussion item. As some background on it, the summary said, “Dexter Board of Education recorded minutes date back to 1952. There is no record of the pledge of allegiance on any agendas or minutes in the archive to date.”

The Sun Times News (STN) followed up with the school board members to get their take on the discussion. STN heard back from the board president and vice president.

School board president Mara Greatorex said by email the “topic of the Pledge of Allegiance was a discussion item at our July 18th meeting that stemmed from a question as to why the Dexter Board of Education doesn’t recite the pledge at every meeting.”

“Our discussion ranged from talking about the research into Dexter Board of Education archives, that did not find any record of the Pledge being on the agenda or in the minutes, individual Trustees looking into the history of the Pledge of Allegiance and several trustees spoke about what the Pledge meant to them,” Greatorex said.

In giving some context as to the pledge’s place in the district, DCS Superintendent Chris Timmis said during the meeting one could visit an elementary school building in the district at the start of a school day and hear students and staff doing the pledge during morning announcements.

Also in follow-up by email, STN asked school board vice president Elise Bruderly about her reasoning in the pledge discussion and what she thinks the community should know about this.

Noting this is her individual opinion and not those of the School Board, Bruderly said:

“I had two main points that I was hoping to make at the meeting. First, I thought it was important to remind community members that all Trustees swear an oath to the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Michigan in order to take their seat at the table. Our loyalty and allegiance to the intention of those documents are our guiding principles as Trustees.”

“Second, the Dexter Board of Education has records dating back to 1952, and the Pledge of Allegiance has not been part of any meeting throughout that history. There are many values that I believe the Trustees on the board share and many ways we can show appreciation for and celebrate those values. I, personally, have a long history of saying the Pledge of Allegiance; however, I recognize that not everyone has that same history. I do have concerns about adding an opening to our meeting that could create division or discomfort among anyone who may be attending or visiting our meeting. As a body representing the educational system in our community, I believe that our business meetings should be an open and welcoming place for anyone to attend and observe, without asking for participation from all who attend.”

“These are the points that I was attempting to convey in my comments.”

“This is a very difficult subject to write about briefly, as there is nuance and rationale that could make the addition of the Pledge or the status quo justifiable. There is also generally emotion on both sides of the debate. My responsibility was to consider the pros and cons and the precedent and tradition in Dexter as we discussed the issue.”

Greatorex said no action was taken at the meeting as this was presented for discussion only.

It was also noted during the July 18 meeting that this issue came up at a board meeting earlier this year in February at Mill Creek Middle School. That meeting saw the school board make a decision regarding COVID masking in school. During that meeting a man from Manchester spoke up during public comment about a few topics with one being, why the pledge wasn’t said at the meeting.

The Manchester man then began to say the pledge with some in the room joining him and some not. STN was present at that meeting.

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