Since the U.S. Supreme Court's 1943 ruling in West Virginia Board of Education vs. Barnette, public schools cannot force children to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools have no policy on the pledge and leave the decision up to individual schools and teachers.
Kim Hoke, the school board's public relations director, said most teachers do not regularly lead their classes in the pledge.
"It's conceivable that a student could go through elementary school and not know the Pledge of Allegiance," Hoke said. "But it's important for teachers to be able to make a judgment by the students in the classroom."
Hoke said the Sept. 11 tragedies might renew interest in the pledge. "I wouldn't be surprised if there were an increase in pledge reciting."
Concerned parents of McDougle Elementary School students have indicated their desire to make the Pledge of Allegiance an option. But other parents refuse to see their children ostracized because they do not wish to recite the pledge.
Hoke said many elementary school students are not American citizens and don't say the pledge. Others, including Jehovah's Witnesses, have religious beliefs that don't allow them to say it.
"We try to be respectful of students coming from other backgrounds," Hoke said.
Starting last Monday, students at McDougle Elementary School were allowed to say the pledge at the flagpole before their classes started.
Paul Hebert, a parent of three students at McDougle, supports the school's new policy.
"Saying (the pledge) is a wonderful tradition," Hebert said. "It's a beautiful and simple affirmation of some basic principles most Americans hold dear."
Other local schools already provide opportunities for students to recite the pledge.
Orange County Schools officials said most county schools have live television programs that include the Pledge of Allegiance.
Carrboro Elementary School's daily radio program, "Good Morning Carrboro," leads students who choose to participate in the pledge.
"We put no pressure on our students," Randy Marshall, Carrboro Elementary principal, said. "However, we feel it's an appropriate thing to have students do."
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