Spanish Pledge of Allegiance Short-Lived in Fairfax County High School

A Pledge of Allegiance experiment for students in one Fairfax County High School in Chantilly, Virginia seemingly failed after anonymous complaints to the administration allegedly squashed the innovative Spanish recitation.

At first, Westfield High School administrators sought to expand inclusion among the student body by having students recite the pledge in Spanish, FOX 5-TV reported. The principal announced that the new program would start Thanksgiving week so students expected to recite the pledge that Monday. 

But the program didn’t last long.

Principal Anthony Copeland unexpectedly cancelled the program a day later for unknown reasons. However, it seems that several students were excited about the change.

Stephanie Somers said her son looked forward to reciting the pledge in Spanish. Another student, an unidentified native Spanish speaker, recited it Tuesday morning.

But by the end of the day, the anonymous student said the principal had apologized to the student body, saying “He was sorry and didn’t want it to be offensive.” 

The school district reportedly contends the program was only supposed to last a few days before Thanksgiving, claiming it would be in the best interests of parents and students if administrators had communicated the “intent” or purpose of the activity in advance. 

School officials did not provide more details to FOX 5 TV. It’s unknown if the school received complaints about the program, but Somers believes that may be the case. 

FOX 5 TV shared the following partial statement from the school district after the program was abruptly cancelled:

"A school administrator suggested students lead the pledge in Spanish to promote engagement and inclusion. Administrators believed this was an opportunity for other voices and languages to be heard and recognize the school diversity.”

Somers said she thought the new program would encompass a variety of languages, including French and German. She told FOX 5 she estimated that between 80 and 90 languages are spoken at the school. However, there is no confirmation of that estimate available.

"What is the harm in saying the Pledge of Allegiance in many different languages to make everyone feel it, love it and know it? I don’t understand," she said in the FOX 5 interview.

If diversity at the school is any indication, a principal message posted on the Westfield High School website solicits public input, via an online survey, about potentially offering Korean to the curriculum. 

American Sign Language, French, German, Japanese, Latin, and Spanish are currently offered at Westfield High School. However, there is no mention of the initial plan to allow students to recite the pledge in Spanish in the message archives.

The school website lists the following demographics for the school: 39 percent white, 22 percent Hispanic or Latino, 21 percent Asian, 12 percent and 6 percent “other.” 

Westfield High School also lists 88 percent of its student body as English proficient and the other 12 percent as English learners, but the data is not parsed into other native language speakers.

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