Florida School District Removes ‘Pledge of Allegiance’ Opt-Out Form After Outcry

August 25, 2016 Updated: August 25, 2016

A school in Florida stirred up a social media controversy after they gave elementary school students slips of paper that would allows them to opt-out of saying the “Pledge of Allegiance” every morning.

Micah Brienen, whose niece attends Killearn Lakes Elementary school in in Tallahassee, Florida, posted the slip on Facebook.

“My niece brought this home from school today,” Brienen wrote. “What is happening to our country?” The post, dated Aug. 18, has been shared tens of thousands of times.

A number of commenters expressed their displeasure with the school’s move, prompting the Leon County school board to scrap it, according to the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper

The district told the newspaper that it estimates only around 400 copies were sent out to parents.

Superintendent Jackie Pons said he decided to stop sending the notes out after the community responded.

“It was yesterday on the way to work I received a phone call from an individual related to the agreement form. When I got there and looked at the form, it was the first time I was aware of it, I pulled it,” Pons said.

The school board subsequently released a statement, saying, in part, “Leon County Schools values patriotism, civic responsibility, and the ‘Pledge of Allegiance.'”

“A change to Florida law this year requires all school districts to publish in the student code of conduct booklet the students’ right to not participate in reciting the pledge of allegiance,” the statement reads, according to WTXL. “In complying with the change in law, our staff developed a form for parents to use to exercise that right.”

It added: “Superintendent Pons received several messages from the community in regards to this process and—upon further inspection—made the decision to remove the form and revise the code of conduct booklet.”

“We apologize for any confusion the form may have caused. We understand that approximately 400 paper copies were distributed before the superintendent stopped the process.”