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Massachusetts School Issues Permission Slips for Pledge of Allegiance

The principal of a public school in Brookline, Mass., is asking parents to fill out permission slips before their children can participate in a weekly recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Gerardo Martinez, the principal of The Devotion School, informed parents that the school would begin reciting the pledge in January over the public address system.

Attached to the letter was a form that asked parents to check either: "Yes, my child will participate in the weekly Pledge of Allegiance" or "No, my child will not participate in the weekly Pledge of Allegiance."

"I urge you to have a conversation as a family to help your children understand why I will be reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and to support them in feeling comfortable and confident in the decision on whether or not to participate," Martinez wrote in the letter.

The school also sent parents a copy of the Pledge of Allegiance along with a note that defined the words "under God" as meaning "there is one Supreme entity for every citizen."

School officials told Fox News Radio they are in the process of offering some sort of clarification about the school’s policy as well as the definition of the words "under God."

"It's actually not a permission slip," said Superintendent Bill Lupini, in an interview with Fox News Radio. "There's no intent this was a permission form."

Lupini said students will not be forced to recite the pledge, regardless of a parent's wishes.

"If a student's parent checked yes and the student chose to remain seated, no one was going to compel that student to stand and vice versa," he said.

As for the definition of "under God?"

"My sense is that particular reference will be removed when he (the principal) clarifies it," Lupini said.

Some parents took issue with the permission slips.

"It's uncomfortable," Judi Puritz Cook told the Local Wicked newspaper. "The pledge is a promise, and I've always taught my kids to think very carefully before making any promise. It's not a decision I want to make for them."

An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union in Boston also had some concerns about the situation.

Sarah Wunsch told the newspaper the permission slips were "really strange."

"It suggests that this is a decision for parents alone," she said, noting that children don't lose their right of expression once they walk into a school building.

Under state law, teachers are required to lead students in the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of every school day. Those who fail to do so for at least two weeks could face fines of up to five dollars.

"It's never been enforced,” Lupini said. "We will not be fining anyone."

Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. Sign up for his American Dispatch newsletter, be sure to join his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter. His latest book is "God Less America."

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