On Tuesday, the Leon County School Board is scheduled to consider changes to a number of policies due to recently enacted laws by the Florida Legislature. None of the proposed changes were initiated by LCS officials.
One of the policies being amended is related to Religious/Patriotic Ceremonies and Observances. The proposed changes are detailed below.
Moment of Silence
The current policy provides that a moment of silence may be provided at the discretion of the Superintendent, and prevents compelled participation by any student.
The proposed change provides that the principal shall require teachers in first-period classrooms to have a moment of silence every day. The moment of silence must last at least one minute, but not more than two minutes.
Parents of the students will be encouraged to discuss the moment of silence to help their child decide how to best make use of this time. Students may not interfere with other students’ participation during the moment of silence.
Pledge of Allegiance
The current policy authorizes staff members to lead students in the Pledge of Allegiance each school day. Students cannot be required to participate and cannot be intimidated by staff or other students for the purpose of coercing participation.
The proposed change will require that a written notice be published in the LCS Student Code of Conduct Book informing that a student has the right to not take part in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
If a parent has given a written request, the student will be excused from the pledge. This includes, not standing up and not placing their right hand over their heart during the pledge.
Celebrate Freedom Week
The Board is proposing a new policy called Celebrate Freedom Week to be recognized during the last full week in September. During the week, students will focus on the intent, meaning and importance of the Declaration of Independence, and will also recite a part of the Declaration.
Students may be excused from reciting the Declaration of Independence upon written request by a parent.
The Board is proposing a new policy to require an observance related to Veterans Day which will include a discussion of the meaning and importance of that day to students. Each school will devote at least one whole class period to this observance, and conduct specific activities after consultation with the school’s administrators.