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Originally published: 2013-11-14 11:09:01
Last modified: 2013-11-14 11:14:42

Schools accept 'In God We Trust' posters

Watauga County Schools plans to accept several "In God We Trust" posters for the schools after further review found that the displays are allowed by state statute.

The 16-inch by 20-inch frames offered by the American Legion Post 130 feature the national motto, "In God We Trust," on an American flag background.

The school system originally rejected the gifts on the advice of attorneys from Campbell Shatley law firm in Asheville that the posters could be construed as a promotion of religion, school spokesman Marshall Ashcraft said last week.

Rick Cornejo, a representative of the American Legion Post 130, spoke against the decision at the Board of Education meeting Nov. 4.

Interim Superintendent David Fonseca said this week that the school system will accept the gifts after considering N.C. General Statute 115C-81(g)(3a).

The statute says school boards shall "allow and encourage" the reading or posting of documents reflecting U.S. history, such as the Declaration of Independence, the Pledge of Allegiance and the national motto.

"Local boards, superintendents, principals and supervisors shall not allow content-based censorship of American history in the public schools of this state, including religious references in these writings, documents, and records," the statute says.

"I don't know what the issue, confusion or question was," Fonseca said Thursday.

Cornejo said he was pleased that the school system changed course after receiving "bad information."

He said the American Legion post felt it was important to supply the posters across the county to continue the past state department commander's directive.

"Of course, being veterans, we're very partial to our history, so that was our driving force, was to put it wherever we could get it, but most importantly in our school systems," Cornejo said. "I think our children kind of lack sometimes in their knowledge of history."

The posters will be placed in school offices or other locations where they can be seen by visitors entering, Fonseca said. Teachers also may request to receive one for individual classrooms.