HASTINGS, Neb. – The American Civil Liberties Union is threatening to sue a Nebraska school district for following state law that requires schools to ask teachers to pledge an oath to America.

The 1951 law requires that teachers pledge an oath to American ideals and promise to teach student’s to value the country’s founding principles, but the ACLU of Nebraska contends Hasting Public Schools should ignore it, the Omaha World-Herald reports.

The school district’s attorney advised Hastings officials that Neb. Rev. Stat. 79-8,108 – one of two pledges required by Nebraska law – remains valid and superintendent Kraig Kautz said the district is simply complying with it, NBC 2 reports.

MORE NEWS: Know These Before Moving From Cyprus To The UK

The pledge asks teachers to vow to “inculcate in the hearts and minds of all pupils” a dedication to the things that make America “the finest country in the world,” and that they “believe in the United States of America as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed,” according to the news site.

“I don’t think a school district can be out of compliance with the law,” Kautz said.

The superintendent said the district is asking teachers to sign the oath, but are not forcing them to do so, and they will not face discipline or harassment if they decline.

“While we’ve asked our employees to sign this, because we believe that’s our statutory obligation, there’s no penalty here,” Kautz said. “They’re not even at risk of getting a dirty look from their superintendent.”

But that’s not good enough for the ACLU, which wants the district to disregard the state law altogether and cease asking teachers to sign the pledge. The civil rights group sent a letter to Hastings officials Friday demanding they cease and desist. The ACLU alleges it received complaints from district employees about the “loyalty oath,” according to Education Week.

“As far as we’re concerned, there’s black-and-white case law saying this style of loyalty oath or pledge is unconstitutional,” ACLU attorney Amy Miller said.

MORE NEWS: How to prepare for face-to-face classes

“Nobody’s enforcing these things anymore, and Hastings and other school districts that are attempting to are so far out of line that we view it as a strong civil rights case if we had to go to court,” Miller told the World-Herald. “But it’s also so clear it shouldn’t need a lawsuit.”

Kautz said the district did not ask teachers to sign the pledge to America in the past because officials were unaware the law existed until a board member and another man brought up the issue. What it all boils down to is the district is stuck between state law and a civil rights group, he said.

“Unfortunately, the Hastings Public Schools has been caught between really two groups of people who have a fight with each other that I wish they would get on with and get resolved,” he said. “We’re doing what we always to, which is complying with our understanding of the law.”

Rex Schultze told the news site he’s not sure what to do, but noted the Nebraska pledge is different than oaths in case law cited by the ACLU.

“The pledge simply is a pledge to teach certain principles, which is pretty straightforward,” he said.

One of the commenters on the Omaha World-Herald site, Mat Rehwaldt, posted the full pledge form in the comments section:

Nebraska’s loyalty statute

79-8,108. Teachers and employees; pledge; form.

All persons engaged in teaching in the public schools of the State of Nebraska and all other employees paid from public school funds, shall sign the following pledge:

I, ………., do believe in the United States of America as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; an indissoluble nation of many sovereign states; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.

I acknowledge it to be my duty to inculcate in the hearts and minds of all pupils in my care, so far as it is in my power to do, (1) an understanding of the United States Constitution and of the Constitution of Nebraska, (2) a knowledge of the history of the nation and of the sacrifices that have been made in order that it might achieve its present greatness, (3) a love and devotion to the policies and institutions that have made America the finest country in the world in which to live, and (4) opposition to all organizations and activities that would destroy our present form of government.