Atheist group warns Florida schools to follow Pledge of Allegiance law

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — For more than 70 years, Florida public school students have had the option of opting out of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance with a parent’s note, but teachers could still require students to stand and place their hands above their hearts.

A recently passed state law will be implemented July 1 giving students the right to not participate in the ritual altogether.

The law requires schools to include an opt-out notice in student handbooks.

"I think they should have to stand. It's been like that for as long as I can remember, and I served in the Army, and I think you should respect the country you live in," said parent Scott Donahue.

An activist group called American Atheists has mailed a letter to each of the state’s 67 school districts, warning them it will keep a close eye on schools come the fall semester.

The letter notified each school district that the group will request a copy of the updated student handbook before the start of the 2016-2017 school year.

Activists complained that a Panhandle school district wasn't following the law.

The group has planned a news conference for Monday at Orange County Public Schools.