Bess Maxwell Elementary School's possible closure dominated Thursday's school board meeting, but Del Norte District 1 Supervisor Roger Gitlin's concerns were more red, white and blue.

Gitlin, who appeared before the board as a teacher and private citizen, said many classrooms in Del Norte are not in compliance with state law regarding patriotic exercises. He cited sections 52720 in the California Education Code, which require elementary and secondary schools to conduct patriotic exercises daily, typically reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Gitlin also cited section 52730 in the state education code, which requires schools to provide instruction on the concepts of "pledge," "allegiance," "republic" and "indivisible."

Gitlin said he has brought the matter to the School Board before and was assured that all classes have an American flag and conduct patriotic exercises daily. But he contended that both the district and the County Office of Education are not in compliance with state law.

"I ask you, why wouldn't this Board of Education teach love of country as prescribed specifically in 52730?" Gitlin asked. "I will continue to appear before this board to make sure that each and every classroom in Del Norte Unified School District and the Office of Education is equipped with an American flag that's not stuck in a closet because a particular certificated staff chooses not to adhere to the ed code."

All but one classroom in Del Norte County currently displays an American flag, said Superintendent Don Olson. He pointed out California is one of five states that does not require classrooms to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Olson added that he and Steve Godla, the district's assistant superintendent of instruction and educational services, will distribute a list of patriotic exercises teachers can perform in their classroom.

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