Dad Battles School Over Child Singing Patriotic Songs

Chula Vista man objects to his daughter, who is a Jehovah’s Witness, singing patriotic songs against her beliefs

By Danya Bacchus, Nicole Gonzales and R. Stickney
|  Thursday, Mar 14, 2013  |  Updated 6:25 AM PDT
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Paul Salcedo, whose wife is a Jehovah's Witness, said the trust between family and educators has been broken. NBC 7's Nicole Gonzales reports.

Paul Salcedo, whose wife is a Jehovah's Witness, said the trust between family and educators has been broken. NBC 7's Nicole Gonzales reports.

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A Southern California man claims his daughter was forced to sing songs in class that violate her religious beliefs.

Paul Salcedo’s daughter is in the third grade at Rosebank Elementary School in Chula Vista, Calif.

Salcedo objects to his daughter, who is a Jehovah’s Witness, singing the songs "My Country 'Tis of Thee," "This Land is Your Land" and "You're a Grand Ol' Flag."

"That's a part of the religion too. They don't salute the flag. They don't sing those types of songs. That's their right," Salcedo said.

Salcedo, whose wife is a Jehovah's Witness, got emotional when he discussed how his daughter said she was forced to sing the songs.

"It's my kids. I gotta protect them," Salcedo said. "I mean, they're not going to. I'm the only one who's going to be their voice."

Other points of conflict between the family and the school included a Halloween-based curriculum and valentines distributed in class.

Salcedo they had an agreement between the principal and the teacher that his daughter would be excused during those songs. Now, he said the trust between parent and educators has been broken.

"It’s a violation of the law. We have those civil rights and it’s already been brought to their attention of our beliefs and our practices," Salcedo said.

The Chula Vista Elementary School District disputes Salcedo's account.

"We don't see these songs as being anything other than folk songs," said Anthony Millican, the spokesperson for the Chula Vista Elementary School District.

"The child has not been required to sing these songs at any point," Millican said adding that the schools will not stop teaching the folks songs.

The district has offered options to parents who want to their children not to participate he said.

"We are sensitive to the needs of every student, so we're looking to find a reasonable solution," Millican said.

The district says they're also excusing the child from social studies class during certain topics.

A meeting scheduled Tuesday between all the parties was canceled because Salcedo wanted to record the discussion.

He said his wife planned to sit in on the music lesson on Wednesday to observe.

The family has considered private education and homeschooling, but Salcedo said those options were not financially possible.

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