A parent disrupted a kindergarten class Jan. 9 at Mill Creek Elementary School and later released a statement saying he would "shed blood" if necessary in a protest of the way the Pledge of Allegiance is recited at the school.
He alleged that the word "liberty" was left out and objected, apparently, to the juxtaposition of the school "creed" that kindergarteners recite every morning also as a "corruption" of the pledge.
According to a letter to parents from Mill Creek Elementary Principal George Petmezas and a Geneva School District 304 press release, a parent identified as Colin M. McGroarty disrupted the class by using language "that is not typically heard in an elementary school setting."
McGroarty's e-mail to Mill Creek parents is presented in full below and contains a threat: "I've shed blood for this Country and will do so again if necessary." The e-mail was forwarded to Geneva Patch from several Mill Creek parents.
Kane County Sheriff's Office Lt. Pat Gengler said Thursday that officers are looking into the incident but no arrests have been made. Gengler said the Sheriff's Office has had an officer at the school all day.
"One of the questions is: Is there anything criminal that occurred here to begin with? Without a doubt, this guy made some pretty off-the-wall statements, but are these statements criminal?" Gengler said.
In his e-mail to parents and guardians, the principal said the emotional conversation at the school was handled quickly; however, "Later that evening, the same parent proceeded to email a select group of parents in our community and post a Facebook message charging Mill Creek Elementary School with reciting the Pledge of Allegiance incorrectly; stating that we are excluding the word 'Liberty' from the Pledge of Allegiance," the e-mail said.
"I assure you that we have not excluded the word 'Liberty' from the Pledge."
Children in Illinois' public schools recite the Pledge of Allegiance in its full form, including the words "under God," despite some controversy about the pledge in other states, according to ProCon.org and Senate Bill 1634, signed by Gov. George Ryan in 2002, according to the Illinois Government News Network website.
That practice was confirmed Thursday by District 304 spokesperson Kelley Munch and underlined in Petmezas' e-mail to parents.
"We have been reciting the Pledge of Allegiance the same way since the school opened, which is the same way as I remember it as a child. Following the Pledge of Allegiance, our students also recite the Mill Creek Elementary School Creed," the letter said.
"The safety of all our students is of highest priority," Petmezas wrote. "Over the next few days, and in the future, you will notice an increased security presence at all of our elementary schools. We do not feel our students safety is at risk, and we are working cooperatively with the Sheriff’s department. The measures in place are purely precautionary."
A parent of a Mill Creek student who asked not to be identified said he talked to McGroarty after the incident.
"I feel comfortable that there is not a threat of violence toward the school," the parent said.
Statement from School District 304
There was a disturbance in the Mill Creek Elementary School library on Wednesday afternoon involving a parent and the use of language that is not typically heard in a school setting. A kindergarten class was present at the time. The situation was quickly resolved in order to minimize the disruption to the academic process, and the Kane County Sheriff’s Department was notified.
On Wednesday evening, the same parent proceeded to email District Board members, administrators, and a select group of parents in the Mill Creek community and post a social media message charging Mill Creek Elementary School with reciting the Pledge of Allegiance incorrectly; stating that the word “Liberty” has been excluded from the Pledge of Allegiance. The word “Liberty” has not been excluded from the Pledge of Allegiance, which is recited daily by students and staff in all of Geneva’s schools. Following the Pledge of Allegiance at Mill Creek Elementary School, students also recite the Mill Creek Elementary School Creed, which states:
In order to develop good citizens,
We believe that every person should
- Treat others with respect
- Follow school and classroom rules
- Try their best
The emails this parent sent, accompanied by the social media post prompted District officials to involve the Kane County Sheriff’s Department once again.
The safety of all our students is of highest priority, and there will be an increased police presence at all of our elementary schools today and in the future. We will continue to work cooperatively with local law enforcement.
School District officials will not make any additional comments on this incident.
Parents with questions or concerns are asked to contact their building administrator.
Dear School District 304,
As a courtesy I'm letting you know I've engaged the American Center for Justice and Law (ACLJ) as well as multiple conservative and verteran groups. I'm also contacting IL state legislators.
I WILL NOT stand for my children standing in front of the flag, hand on heart, reciting a corrupted Pledge of Allegiance that leaves out "liberty" and has students stating they will obey all rules and commands of teachers. I witnessed this first hand today and am ashamed. You are teaching fascism plain and simple. My children will not grow up as blind followers who don't think for themselves.
I can think of no reason for having a separate pledge for kindergarteners and first graders then indoctrination of the young. Not going to happen on my watch. I've shed blood for this Country and will do so again if necessary.
My mother spent 12 years in a prison camp. I'm NOT ALLOWING you to introduce a Nazi way of life into the USA.
Colin M. McGroarty MBA, MCSE