A Virginia teacher allegedly disciplined a high school student for refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, which was a violation of rules established by the Fairfax County Public Schools, and so he won’t be returning to the classroom right now, the Washington Post reports.
The sophomore student, identified as Eric Trammel, reported the incident to school administrators, according to the article. An email statement from FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabard didn’t name the teacher but noted that an investigation had been conducted into the incident at Centreville High School in Clifton.
According to Eric, the teacher removed him from his first period driver’s ed class on a November day after seeing him sitting during the morning recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. He says the teacher yelled at him and then took him out of the room, where he was forced to stand in the cold before walking down to the office to report the incident.
Eric said he has refused to participate in the pledge since he was in eighth grade and first became aware of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“The country is in a very divided place right now and there’s a lot of injustices around the US,” he was quoted as saying. “I feel like me sitting can spread awareness to that; I don’t believe in forcing other people to sit. … That’s just a personal decision.”
Mr Brabrand described the teacher’s reaction as “unacceptable” for a classroom teacher and said it “directly violates an existing FCPS policy.”
Citing an attorney for the accused teacher, the Post reported that he claims the allegations are without merit. However, the details of the matter cannot be reported or discussed with the media, because it involves a personnel matter and no public court record exists in the case yet.
The US Supreme Court ruled in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943) that students can’t be forced to recite the pledge.