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posted: 1/15/2013 6:29 PM

Man apologizes, via Facebook, over Geneva school incident

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The man at the center of last week's flap over how children said the Pledge of Allegiance and a school pledge at a Geneva school has issued a public apology, via his Facebook page.

Colin McGroarty of Rockford posted the statement Monday. According to subsequent posts, he was considering sending it also to Geneva school officials. Superintendent Kent Mutchler said Tuesday he was not aware of the district receiving it.

Kane County sheriff's deputies were called to Mill Creek Elementary school Jan. 8 after officials reported that a parent, volunteering at the school, became upset with how the kindergartners had said the Pledge of Allegiance. McGroarty said he thought they omitted the word "liberty." Even if he was mistaken, he said, he still questions the school's practice of having students recite a school pledge immediately after the Pledge of Allegiance, while still holding their hands over their hearts and facing the U.S. flag. Students pledge to respect people, obey their teachers and school rules, and do their best.

District officials called deputies again on Jan. 8 after receiving an email from McGroarty about the incident, which referred to his military service and said that, "I've shed blood for this country and will do so again if necessary."

McGroarty wrote that he apologized to Geneva-area residents "for unintentionally contributing to a heightened state of fear."

He went on to write, "My poor choice of wording in the publicly released statement after witnessing the children in the afternoon kindergarten class promising to obey rules and teachers while performing the Pledge of Allegiance was open to misinterpretation. Please understand that generating fear was not the intent. The event left me horrified and in a heightened emotional state due to my own personal knowledge and experience ...

"Please rest assured that at NO POINT were the children or school officials ever threatened. In fact, anyone who actually knows me will tell you there is nobody you'd rather have between children and a threat than Colin M. McGroarty. It is because of my love and desire to protect children that I felt it was so important to get the word out."

The incident is still under investigation, and no charges have been filed. McGroarty was banned from the school.

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