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Student punished for altering Pledge of Allegiance
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TRACY (AP) — A high school student in Tracy had his grade docked for dropping the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.

Derek Giardina, a 17-year-old at Tracy’s West High School, said he omitted the phrase while leading the school during morning announcements. He was assigned the duty in his speech and debate class, and now he’s receiving a failing grade because of his choice.

Giardina told KXTV-TV in Sacramento that he isn’t religious, which was only part of the reason for his omission.

“As an American citizen you have the right to pledge allegiance to the country however you’re comfortable,” he said.

Tracy Unified School District spokesman Sam Strube said Giardina had the option of choosing another assignment, which he refused.

“We ask when they do represent the school and read the Pledge to 2,000 students, they read what is commonly known as the Pledge of Allegiance,” Strube said.

Giardina said the alternative assignment was preparing a full speech, which amounted to disproportionately more work than he cared to do.

Giardina said he stands by his decision, and if he is asked again to lead the morning Pledge — which he doubts will ever happen — he will do the same.