Teacher Docks Student’s Grades for Sitting During Pledge of Allegiance

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(Via Giphy)

A California high school student say she was docked points from her grade for sitting during the Pledge of Allegiance, but her parents, classmates, and the school district have her back on this one.

According to ABC News, Leilani Thomas is a Native American high school student, and she’s been sitting through recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance since she was in second grade.

“My mom and my dad brought up what [the pledge] meant to us and our people,” Leilani said. “So I just started sitting down.”

Leilani’s quiet protest never bothered any of her teachers until this year, when a teacher at the Lower Lake High School got angry about it. The teacher told Leilani and another student who chose to sit that they did not have the choice to sit during the pledge, and that they were being disrespectful and making bad life choices. She docked their participation grades on those grounds, and Leilani complained to the school.

“She told me I was being disrespectful and I was pretty mad,” Leilani said to ABC 10. “She was being disrespectful to me also, saying I was making bad choices, and I don’t have the choice to sit during the pledge.”

Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in class is one thing, but forcing students to do it and penalizing their grades if they don’t seems illogical. If the Pledge of Allegiance is supposed to indicate that one is promising to support the country, doesn’t it only count if a person is doing it willingly? A loyalty oath doesn’t mean anything if you’re just doing it because an authority figure is forcing you to do so. Telling kids to go through the motions or else is just teaching students to lie and make empty promises to appease an authority figure. That’s not a good look for anybody.

Somewhat surprisingly, the school district superintendent came out on Leilani’s side in this one. She said the students have the right to sit during the Pledge of Allegiance under the First Amendment, and that the district considered that right to remain in effect in the schoolhouse.

To solve the problem, the school just transferred Leilani and the other student to a different teacher, who doesn’t mind that they’re sitting.