Reporting Todd Quinones
By Todd Quinones
COLLINGSWOOD, NJ (CBS) — Everyday in classrooms, students stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
Collingswood High School senior Chelsea Stanton is not one of them.
“I couldn’t bring myself to recite it anymore, because I felt like it didn’t respect me,” Stanton said.
The 19-year-old former Student of the Month is an atheist.
She has a problem with the words, “ … one nation under God …”
So every morning, she sits silently as fellow students stand and say the Pledge of Allegiance.
“I don’t think any student anywhere should have to stand up for this,” she said.
Stanton contends she faced possible disciplinary action at school when her teacher began to take issue with what she was doing.
She was referred to the student code of conduct, which cites a state statute saying students can keep silent but are required “to show proper respect to the flag by standing” during the pledge.
Stanton fought back.
According to The New Jersey Law Revision Commission’s Executive Director John Cannel in 1978, “That provision requiring students to stand was held unconstitutional by the United States Court of Appeals.”
He also said that the state statute has never been revised to reflect the ruling; therefore, school districts across the state get the wrong impression.
“That’s the beauty of America — that you don’t have to follow the same religion the majority does,” Stanton said.
After having looking into the matter, Collingswood Schools Superintendent Scott Oswald said Chelsea is right.
Now, she has been allowed to sit during the Pledge with no problems.
Oswald said he will likely look into revising the student code of conduct this summer.