Virginia Teacher Punished for Kicking Out Student Who Protested Pledge

The bad news is that a student who didn’t want to say the Pledge of Allegiance was punished by his teacher.

The good news is that the teacher won’t be returning to the classroom.


15-year-old Eric Trammel said he began sitting during the Pledge in eighth grade, when he first learned about Black Lives Matter. He felt it was unjust to go through a ritual all about how wonderful our country is when people like him have suffered (and continue to suffer) so much.

The sophomore at Centreville High School in Virginia didn’t encounter any pushback until last month, during his second day in driver’s ed. Teacher Richard Ferrick couldn’t handle a student exercising his rights, grabbed him by the arm, and took him outside. The Washington Post‘s Debbie Truong explains what happened next:

After being thrown out of class, Trammel said he spent 20 minutes outside in the cold before knocking and asking Ferrick if he could return. The teacher allegedly refused unless Trammel agreed to stand for the pledge.

“This isn’t the NFL,” Trammel recalled the teacher saying.

“This has nothing to do with the NFL,” Trammel said he responded, adding that he explained to Ferrick that he had the right to sit through the pledge.

Trammel let the administrators (and his mother) know what happened and they came to speak with Ferrick immediately as the student returned to the classroom. When class was over, things didn’t get much better:

[Ferrick] told me that our relationship had drastically changed, that what he thought of me was different,” Trammel said. “He also moved me to the back of the classroom.”

To their credit, the administrators began an investigation against the teacher. That investigation is now over and Ferrick isn’t coming back. It’s absolutely the right move against a teacher who either didn’t understand the law or didn’t care about it. Either way, no one who treats students like he did deserve to be in a classroom.

This is what happens when some people fetishize the flag to the point that civil disobedience is treated like treason instead of patriotism. While the issue in question here wasn’t religion, the outcome would likely have been the same thing if the student had stayed seated because he didn’t believe we were a nation “Under God.” Still, Trammel wasn’t sitting down because he hates the country. He was sitting because he loves it enough to want to see it get better. And for that, the teacher decided to punish him.

Trammel’s family is still deciding whether to file a lawsuit, but considering the administrators appear to have handled everything properly — outside of hiring someone like Ferrick in the first place — it’s hard to see how the District could be punished.

(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Scott for the link)

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