Capital High School is changing its policy so students will no longer be required to stand for the playing of the national anthem, pledge or anything else played over the loudspeaker during morning observances.
Principal Clinton Giles revised the policy Wednesday following an investigation by Mark Milam, assistant superintendent for Kanawha County high schools, and a conversation with Superintendent Ron Duerring.
Giles said he was “completely and totally exonerated” following the investigation, but the school is adding the words “or sit” to its policy regarding student participation during the Pledge of Allegiance.
The decision comes after students and parents complained about a song played every Friday morning at the school.
The song, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” embodies “the idea that everybody is somebody at Capital,” Giles told the Daily Mail. Every Friday it would be played over the school’s loudspeaker directly after the national anthem and pledge. Students were required to stand for all three.
This upset at least two students and one parent.
Kim Bailey is the mother of one student who chose not to stand. She said the song is considered the “African-American National Anthem” and it was disrespectful to make students stand for it.
Her son chose not to stand and was sent to the office several times because of his decision, she said. She also said Giles made statements over the loudspeaker about the situation that “ostracized” her son.
Giles said no student was ever punished for not standing during any portion of the morning observances. He spoke about the situation at an assembly but said he did so only to give students the facts. He said the idea he belittled students is a lie.
“There has never been an announcement made for students to stand for the playing of the African American National Anthem at Capital High School. That has never happened, won’t happen,” Giles said.
“There is one national anthem, the ‘Star Spangled Banner,’ by Francis Scott Key,” he continued. “That’s all I recognize; that’s all I’ve ever recognized.”
Students never were sent to the office because they chose not to stand, Giles said. Instead, the two students came to his office on two separate occasions to talk about the situation, meetings that totaled about an hour, he said.
He [Giles] said he is going to play a different song this Friday. He didn’t want to say which one but said it would be a song that reflected his feelings about the nation.