A high school student in Tracy, California, was disciplined and had his grades lowered after omitting 'under God' while leading his school in the Pledge of Allegiance, reports CBS Sacramento.
Derek Giardina, 17, a student at West High School, said he was given detention and had points docked from his grade point average because he omitted the reference to God while fulfilling a class requirement that obliges students to lead the pledge 12 times every year.
Giardana, said he agreed to lead the pledge because it's a requirement but would prefer to not recite it at all.
"I think it's very wrong that you get disciplinary actions for thinking for yourself," Giardana explained. “Personally I wouldn’t say the pledge at all, because I’m not necessarily very patriotic, and I’m not religious,”
Giardana admitted he had been warned after omitting the reference previously but still didn't feel he should be punished for his religious beliefs.
“There’s something disciplinary happening because of my religious beliefs,” he said.
The school district is standing behind the administrators at West High saying that, while they respect everyone's religious beliefs, if you lead the school in the pledge, it must be delivered in the traditional way.
“A public forum where you’re going to represent the school is not a place where you can voice a controversial issue and force that on other people,” school district spokesman Sam Strube explained.
Strube stated that there is an alternative offered to students in place of leading the pledge but if a student agrees to do the pledge they are graded on their effort.
“Students are given that choice, and so if you’re representing the school and you’re reading the announcements to the class, you can be graded on how well you read the announcements,” he said.
According to Giardana his grade has dropped to a low C based upon other speeches he's given and that he has been banned from giving announcements at the school.
The US Supreme Court has ruled students do not have to participate in reciting the pledge, but it is not a violation for it to be led in schools. The California Education Code requires patriotic exercises with the reciting the pledge fulfilling the requirement.
Watch the video below from CBS Sacramento: