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SHELTON (AUDIO) — The Squaxin Island Tribe and Shelton School District officials came together on Monday to sign a memorandum of understanding.

The memorandum allows both parties to talk together and learn together in order to create an environment that promotes closing of the opportunity gap, and increase the graduation levels for Native American students.

A Shelton School District facebook post said the memorandum is in the spirit of Centennial Accord and Millennium Agreement with the State of Washington as identified under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Shelton School District Superintendent Alex Apostle said the memorandum further formalizes the relationship between the school district and Squaxin Island Tribe.

Apostle said the school district has also formulated a memorandum of understanding with the Skokomish Tribe, and will have a formal singing in the near future.

On March 6, a petition was signed by 110 Shelton High School students asking that the school honor their wish of removing the pledge of allegiance from the assembly honoring Native American rights activist Billy Franks Jr due to political and moral conflicts. A decision was made to remove the pledge despite the petition only being signed by 1/10 of the student body.

Several students angry at the decision reportedly walked out of the assembly. Later in the day, iFIBER ONE News received a letter from Shelton High School sophomore Josiah Sushak, expressing great displeasure over the school’s hasty decision.

On March 12, Shelton School District Superintendent Alex Apostle publicly stated on social media that the decision to not perform the Pledge of Allegiance at the Shelton High School assembly was “not the appropriate decision regardless of the circumstances involved.” Apostle stressed that at no time either the Squaxin or Skokomish Tribes communicated anything to the Shelton School District against recognizing the flag, or national anthem, as a prelude to any school assembly.

iFIBER ONE News asked Apostle if the assembly had prompted the decision to sign memorandums of understanding with the tribes, but said that the gestures had been in the works for the last six months. 

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