Local parents can opt out of Obama's school address - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Local parents can opt out of Obama's school address

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School kids in San Diego and across the nation are getting caught up in what's becoming a political firestorm.

Even though school hasn't started in the San Diego Unified School District just yet, the office operators have been busy fielding calls from some parent who want their students to be excused from viewing the president's speech, which just happens to fall on the first day of school.

When President Obama delivers his nationally televised speech for students next Tuesday, some San Diego County parents will have opted to let their kids skip the 15- to 20-minute address.

"Our superintendent has let principles know that it's up to the individual principal and the teacher as to whether it's appropriate to show in the class. There will be no penalty to students, and it's certainly a parent's choice on this type of an issue," San Diego Unified School District spokesman Jack Brandais said.

Brandais says students who sit out the speech will be taken care of during the president's remarks.

"The activities that non-participating students would participate in will depend on the number of students and the type of lesson that the teacher is going to be teaching off of the video," he said.

Brandais says several offices and some campuses have received phone calls and emails from people opposed to showing the speech in class.

"We've had a few people who have identified as San Diego voters, so we let them know that they should be speaking with the board member from their district. A number of people who haven't identified themselves, who have just picked a school district to express their First Amendment rights to... we're very polite, we're a government agency. Everyone has a right to their opinion," he said.

Brandais also notes Tuesday is the first day of school, and that many students won't start their first class until after the president starts speaking.

"We actually have schools that don't start until 9:05, so for those schools, they wouldn't be watching it live. A lot of our high schools start at 7:30. It'll be the first day of class and there will be a lot of things going on in the first two hours. So those schools may decide to watch it later," Brandais said.

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