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Should a School Counselor Lose Her Job for Altering the Pledge of Allegiance?

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," April 29, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Seventh-grade students at Everitt Middle School (search) in Colorado, they were reciting their daily Pledge of Allegiance (search) when the voice over the intercom suddenly said, "One nation under your belief system." It confused students. — They never even finished the pledge.

Joining us now from Denver, two mothers who are outraged at this news: Christina Pulciani-Johnson and Shelley Pierce are with us.

Thank you both for being with us.

Christina, let me start with you. Tell me that I'm not hearing this right. Tell me that this is wrong, that a school district didn't do this... They did, didn't they?

CHRISTINA PULCIANI-JOHNSON, OUTRAGED PARENT: No, they did. My son had came home from school and he had indicated that they had changed the Pledge of Allegiance, and I was just shocked. I couldn't believe it.

HANNITY: Yes.

Shelley, same story with you? Your son comes home, your daughter comes home, tells you this story, and that's it?

SHELLEY PIERCE, OUTRAGED PARENT: That was it.

HANNITY: All right. What is the reaction in the community and what's the reaction now from the school?

Christina?

PULCIANI-JOHNSON: Oh, I'm sorry. Initially what had happened was, we were contacted by the children. And the children were very surprised. They couldn't believe what was going on, so they were confused. And then, obviously, the news stations got a hold of it.

The principal did apologize for what happened, and she was very upset that the counselor had done that. And it just kind of, you know, went from there.

HANNITY: Christina, do you think the person should be fired?

PULCIANI-JOHNSON: I think so. I think that they did let her have a couple of days off. And I think it was because of the heat of the media. I think that she should have been reprimanded and taken out for the rest of the school year.

They suspend children for things that are minor. And this is major. This is a big deal.

HANNITY: Shelley, do you agree?

PIERCE: I'm not sure that she should have been suspended, but she should have been reprimanded a little bit more. They just sort of hid her away for a couple of days and then let her back in her position. And I don't think that that gave a good message to the kids.

HANNITY: Christina, you know what's frustrating to me is, on every level, it seems like political correctness has sort of — it's now permeating every level of society. And these people on the left — and I don't know what either one of your political points of view are — but it seems to me that the left in America — and tell me if you agree — that they feel that they have the right to impose their values on everybody and not take into account the values of parents.

We send our kids to school, and more often than not, the values that we're trying to instill in our kids are circumvented by people that have very different values. Do you feel that way as a parent?

PULCIANI-JOHNSON: I do. And I think it's really sad that society has gone in that direction, that a person that would being able to say the Pledge of Allegiance with all of these kids listening would actually do something like that. It's unacceptable.

HANNITY: Yes, Shelley, you feel the same way. You are a parent. You work hard. You're trying to instill values in your kids. You send them off to school, and then, boom, they contradict them.

PIERCE: That's definitely what had happened. Prior to this situation occurring, all of the children were participating in the Pledge of Allegiance. And since then, about half of the class refuses to stand up and even say the Pledge of Allegiance.

So she really did have an impact on their attitudes and their opinions. And parents don't have a clue whether or not their kids are one of them. And it's hard as a parent to know how to handle it, too.

COLMES: Shelley, Christina, it's Alan. Thank you for coming on our show.

Christina, isn't there a little bit of an overreaction here? I mean, this is a woman, who's a guidance counselor, she apologized. It was a spur of the moment thing. Let's look at her intent. Do you think she intended to do anybody harm?

PULCIANI-JOHNSON: You know, I think that she took a venue that was out there where children would be listening, and she opened the door and said what she said. She in no way apologized to me until the media actually got involved, and the district and the principle. So, you know, she opened the door for whatever she did. And it really confused a lot of children.

COLMES: And let's look what she meant to do, Shelley. She just meant to be inclusive. Now, maybe she used the wrong words, and maybe she took authority upon herself she shouldn't have done.

But to suspend her, to fire her, to have her dismissed over something which might have been a momentary lapse, isn't that a little extreme?

PIERCE: You know what? There are people who gave their lives so that we have the right to say the Pledge of Allegiance. And there are people who gave their lives to form our country as one nation under God.

And that's a big thing, a big deal. It wasn't just something that she should have the right just to mess around with. If she wants to change it, then go through the right channels and change it, but it's a big deal.

COLMES: But she was trying — look what she was trying to do. She was trying to include, she was trying to be inclusive, she wasn't being mean-spirited. She was simply — and she admitted she made an error in judgment.

And nobody else supported her in the school system. As I understand it, the principal, the spokesperson for the district, all said she made a mistake. She was reprimanded. What more do you want here, Christina?

PULCIANI-JOHNSON: You know, I would really appreciate if she would give me a call and apologize personally. I mean, she made a reflection to these children that they're now being reprimanded for wearing shirts in school that say "Under God" and it's crossed out. And as a Christian, I don't believe that that's appropriate.

COLMES: Was anybody harmed by this?

PULCIANI-JOHNSON: Well, yes. My son, for standing up for what he believes in, is being tormented daily at school, as well as Mrs. Pearson's daughter. And that's unacceptable. For standing up for what they believe in the Pledge of Allegiance, what they have been saying since they were kindergarteners...

HANNITY: Yes. All right, Christina and Shelley, we'll continue to update this story. Thanks for being with us. We appreciate your time.

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