UPDATE: On August 18, 2022, the Board of Education of Fargo Public Schools voted 8-1 to “resume reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of board meetings.” The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead reported that the “change was prompted by public outcry that followed a decision by the board on Aug. 9 to stop reciting the pledge.” The news outlet continued to report: “Board President Tracie Newman called for Thursday’s meeting and recommended the board reinstate the pledge after the widespread backlash.”
ORIGINAL STORY: On August 9, 2022, the Board of Education of Fargo Public Schools voted 7-2 to remove the Pledge of Allegiance from board meetings moving forward. The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead reported that board member Seth Holden pushed for the vote to occur. He had a problem with the fact that the Pledge of Allegiance mentions “God.” He explained to the newspaper:
Given that the word “God” in the text of the Pledge of Allegiance is capitalized. The text is clearly referring to the Judeo-Christian god and therefore, it does not include any other face such as Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, all of which are practiced by our staff and students at FPS.
Holden reportedly believed that the Pledge of Allegiance contradicted the school district’s diversity, equity, and inclusion push. He also called the Pledge of Allegiance a “non-inclusionary act” because of atheists and agnostics allegedly being excluded.
The Board of Education originally approved the Pledge of Allegiance in a 6-2 vote on March 22, 2022. Holden was one of the two board members who voted “no” at the time. The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead reported that Holden remained “silent as the words of the pledge were recited by board members and people in the audience” at the April 12 meeting. The newspaper summarized that Holden disagreed with the Pledge of Allegiance at this time because “not everyone in the country enjoys liberty and justice.” He explained:
If I don’t want to do this Pledge of Allegiance at every single board meeting it’s not because I don’t have allegiance to my country, it’s not because I don’t love my country, it’s because there are words in the Pledge of Allegiance that I don’t think are true.
Meanwhile, the Board of Education approved a land acknowledgment on June 14, 2022. The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead reported that the land acknowledgment states: “Fargo Public Schools respectfully acknowledges that we gather on the lands of the Oceti Sakowin, who are the Dakota, Lakota, and Nakoda people, and the Anishinaabe people of this area.” The newspaper listed how the land acknowledgment will be used:
- Placing it at the bottom of all regular, special and standing committee meeting agendas.
- Having it read by the board president annually at the board’s reorganizational meeting in July.
- Using it at board events at board member discretion.
The newspaper further reported that the statement can be posted “in all district buildings” and can be used “at school events at the discretion of administration.”