Elementary School Sign to be Restored with Controversial Phrase - Northern Michigan's News Leader

Elementary School Sign to be Restored with Controversial Phrase

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A northern Michigan school board unanimously voted to reinstate a controversial motto on one of their school's signs.

The decision comes after hearing from those on both sides of the issue, all revolving around four words.

"In God We Trust" was painted on a sign outside of Pine River Elementary School in LeRoy.

It was removed after complaints from community members.

The sign was created by a local artist and installed this summer.

The school district said they never approved, nor reviewed the sign before it was put up.

It's been an ongoing debate since the sign was created, and after hearing thoughts from thousands on the controversial motto, the board of education made their final decision.

"I've received probably close to 70 e-mails and a number of e-mails from across the country supporting various positions, and so it's been challenging," Jim Peterson, the President of the Pine River Area Schools Board of Education explained.

Attention from all over the country, shining a spotlight on the small town of LeRoy and four little words.

"In some ways it's a distraction from student achievement, curriculum development, and balancing budgets, but it's obviously very important to the community so we tried to deal with it thoroughly and openly and just having that community input I think was vital," said Peterson.

Community input that saw many asking for the sign to be left as is.

"And I told him that I thought 'In God We Trust' is totally inappropriate on a public school building," said one woman.

"You are being asked to reverse a decision made by the Superintendent, a decision which was in his authority to make. If you reverse his decision, you are undermining his authority," said another. 

But the majority plead for the sign to be restored to its original state.

"I am appalled to think that putting a national motto on a sign, a public sign, would ever be even thought of removing. That is a national motto!"

"We can't shield our kids from every motto, every phrase up and down the roads, that's not our jobs to shield them from something like that," one man passionately declared.

That persuasion, along with a school board discussion led to a 7 to 0 vote. The sign will now don "In God We Trust" again.

"Ultimately I came to the decision that it's certainly the community's sentiment that they want this to be a part of our schools. So as the national motto I can accept 'In God We Trust' as a ceremonial deism, it's considered patriotic and inspirational,"

It's unclear when the phrase will be painted back on but the school board anticipates the artist of the sign, a Pine River graduate from the 1940's, will be very excited when he learns the news.