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School forced daughter to sing patriotic songs, California man says

A Southern California man says his third-grade daughter was forced at school to sing “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and other patriotic songs that violate her beliefs as a Jehovah’s Witness.

The school says the girl hasn’t been forced to sing anything.

Paul Salcedo, whose daughter attends Rosebank Elementary School in Chula Vista, says the principal, the teacher and the family had an agreement that the girl would not have to sing. He says the daughter was forced to anyway.

Among the other songs to which Salcedo objects are “My Country ’Tis of Thee” and “This Land Is Your Land.”

“That’s part of the religion, too,” he told NBC San Diego. “They don’t salute the flag. They don’t sing those types of songs. That’s their right.”

Salcedo’s wife is also a Jehovah’s Witness.

Jehovah’s Witnesses generally believe that saluting the flag or singing nationalistic songs amounts to an act of worship. Believers also refuse to participate in secular government.

School administrators dispute Salcedo’s account. They say that the school district has offered options to parents who don’t want their children to participate, and that they have no plans to stop teaching the songs.

“We don’t see these songs as being anything other than folk songs,” said Anthony Millican, a spokesman for the Chula Vista Elementary School District. “Having said that, we are sensitive to the needs of every student, and so we’re looking to find a reasonable solution.”

A meeting planned for earlier this week among everyone involved was canceled because Salcedo wanted to record it, NBC San Diego reported.