On the day of President Trump's Inauguration, two Copiague High School staff members were reported to have knelt during the Pledge of Allegiance, shortly before the beginning of the period.
Over the weekend, multiple members of the community spoke out in outrage, many regarding the incident as a "disgrace" towards the Copiague School District.
In response to the community's reaction, the Copiague School District released the following statement:
"The District is aware of an incident that occurred early Friday morning involving two high school staff members who interrupted the educational process of a first period class in Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School by engaging in a form of personal protest. We take this matter very seriously and an internal investigation is continuing to ascertain all of the relevant facts. Please be assured that neither the Board of Education nor District Administration condones such conduct in the classroom in any fashion, and will take appropriate action in response.
The District has received many complaints from concerned residents regarding the behaviors of these staff members. Because this is a personnel matter, we are limited by law regarding the information we can share about the nature of the District’s response. We assure the public that the District is addressing the matter and we intend to bring the matter to a close as soon as possible.
We appreciate the information and statements of concern that we have received regarding this situation, and thank the community for your ongoing understanding and support for Copiague Schools."
- Copiague School District Administration
Though a number of parents and other members of the community are upset, students of the two teachers fought off the Facebook posts with their own commentary regarding their teachers' protest. Some online are bringing up the relevance of the Tinker v. Des Moines Supreme Court case, which states that "First Amendment rights are available to teachers and students, subject to application in light of the special characteristics of the school environment".
"I happen to be very conservative politically," said one student. "But this has no effect on their [teaching ability]....for the community to give backlash like this for [the expression of] their beliefs is wrong. This nation was founded on the principle that each individual is allowed to practice and believe what he or she believes; I feel we should afford these teachers the same."
The Copiague School District was scheduled for a Board Meeting on Monday at 7:30 to discuss the issue, with some students planning to attend at the teachers' defense. Due to inclement weather, the meeting was canceled, and it was declared that the new meeting will be held Monday, February 13.