Miseducation: An 11-year-old Florida student was placed under arrest and suspended from school after refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Earlier this month an 11-year-old African American student at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Lakeland, Florida refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. When asked to stand for the Pledge by his substitute teacher, the boy refused, while explaining that the American flag is racist against black people.
Bay News 9 reports:
An 11-year-old Polk County student refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, and after explaining his reasons, he was kicked out of class and eventually arrested…
He was also suspended for three days.
The incident happened at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Lakeland on February 4. The sixth grader was arrested and taken to a juvenile detention center, charged with disrupting a school function and resisting arrest without violence.
The flag is racist and the national anthem is offensive to black people.
This was too much for the substitute teacher. In a statement to the district, the substitute teacher, identified by district officials as Ana Alvarez, recounted her conversation with the student.
Why if it was so bad here he did not go to another place to live?
According to the teacher the student replied:
They brought me here.
She said she replied by saying:
Well you can always go back, because I came here from Cuba and the day I feel I’m not welcome here anymore I would find another place to live.
Alvarez concluded her report by noting:
Then I had to call the office because I did not want to continue dealing with him.
Yahoo reports that a Polk County Public Schools public relations specialist issued a statement denying that the student was suspended and arrested for failing to stand for the Pledge, claiming that the student was “disruptive” and failed to follow instructions:
A student at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy was arrested after becoming disruptive and refusing to follow repeated instructions of school staff and law enforcement. This incident followed the daily Pledge of Allegiance in the classroom. Unfortunately, a substitute teacher was not aware of this. We are looking into this matter, but this individual will no longer be allowed to substitute at any of our schools. Our HR department will contact Kelly Services (which provides our substitutes) to further refine how our substitutes are trained.
The good news is that the incompetent substitute teacher has been banned from the district. The bad news is that so far the school administrators and local police involved in this unjust arrest are not being disciplined.
It is also important to note that the law clearly states that students are not required to stand for and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and can not be compelled to do so.
On its face, the idea that an 11-year-old student would be arrested and taken to a juvenile detention center for refusing to stand for the Pledge and being disruptive in the process is simply absurd, and reflects poorly on every adult involved in such a draconian overreaction.
While it may be appropriate to discipline a student for being disruptive, it is never appropriate to arrest a non-violent 11-year-old who is simply expressing passion for what some might consider to be a controversial political opinion.
In short, the substitute teacher, the administrative staff at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy, and the local police are all guilty of a shameful and deplorable overreaction that stinks of racial and political bias.
Bottom line: In a moral failure for all adults involved, an 11-year-old Florida student was arrested and suspended after refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance while expressing a controversial political opinion some conservatives may find offensive.