GENEVA – A parent disrupted the Pledge of Allegiance at Mill Creek Elementary School on Wednesday afternoon, prompting district officials to increase security measures and send a letter home to parents.
According to a statement from Geneva School District 304, a parent used "language that is not typically heard in a school setting" while a kindergarten class was present in the school's library. The statement says that the situation was quickly resolved and the Kane County Sheriff's Department was notified.
The parent, Colin McGroarty, 41, whose children attend Mill Creek, said he was at the school a little earlier than usual Wednesday and saw students saying the Pledge of Allegiance. He said he volunteers at the school for a few hours around noon every Wednesday.
"It warmed my heart until they got to the end and kept going," he said.
McGroarty said immediately after saying the Pledge of Allegiance, the students went right into reciting the Mill Creek Elementary School creed, which states, "In order to develop good citizens, we believe that every person should treat others with respect, follow school and classroom rules and try their best."
Later on Wednesday evening, McGroarty sent an email to district board members, administrators and a few parents associated with Mill Creek and also posted a social media message with concerns that the word "liberty" had been excluded from the Pledge of Allegiance. The district's statement said the word "liberty" had not been excluded by the Pledge of Allegiance, which is recited daily in all of Geneva's schools.
McGroarty said when he approached the faculty about the pledge, he was told that kindergardeners and first-graders say a different Pledge of Allegiance.
In the email, McGroarty wrote that he has shed blood for his country "and will do so again if necessary." He said that line wasn't meant as a threat. He said as a U.S. Army veteran, he would defend his country today if he needed to.
The Kane County Sheriff's Department was called to the school, and Lt. Pat Gengler, the spokesman for the Sheriff's Department, said McGroarty had left by the time authorities arrived. He said a deputy had been assigned to the school all day as an increased security measure.
"It's definitely not normal to have a deputy assigned over all day," he said. "The safety and security of the kids is of upmost importance."
Gengler said the investigation is still ongoing and he was unsure whether the parent would be charged with any offenses.
The school district's statement said an increased police presence would continue Thursday and in the future.