An 11-year-old boy from Florida was charged for disrupting a school function and resisting arrest without violence after refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance in school Feb. 4.
The unnamed boy’s mother, Dhakira Talbot, is demanding the misdemeanor charges be dropped, WHDH reported Monday.
“I’m upset,” Talbot said, according to Orlando Weekly. “I’m angry. I’m hurt … If any disciplinary action should’ve been taken, it should’ve been with the school. He shouldn’t have been arrested.”
The incident also included a verbal disagreement with a substitute teacher who will no longer be able to work at schools in the school district, a school district spokeswoman said, according to WHDH.
The boy, a sixth-grader at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Lakeland, Florida, told the substitute teacher that the flag was racist.
The teacher responded by asking the boy why he did not find another country to live in, according to The Washington Post.
“They brought me here,” the boy replied, according to a statement from the teacher.
“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,” the teacher said she responded, according to The Post.
She then involved the school’s office and the boy was “arrested because he refused to follow multiple commands, repeatedly called school leaders racist and was disruptive, according to an arrest affidavit,” reported WHDH.
The student reportedly threatened to get the school’s principal fired and to beat the substitute teacher.
He was taken to a juvenile detention center Feb. 4 and suspended from school for three days, according to The Post.
The school district spokeswoman said the substitute teacher was unaware that students are not required to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Controversies about the Pledge of Allegiance in schools have raged recently, including at a Georgia elementary school where the principal suggested the Pledge be replaced with a new pledge about “students’ civic responsibility to their school family, community, country and our global society.”
Other children have kneeled during the Pledge. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton applauded a child for refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance during class in August.
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CORRECTION, Feb. 19, 2019: This article was originally published under the headline, “Report: 11-Year-Old Arrested After Refusing To Recite ‘Racist’ Pledge of Allegiance.” While accurate, the headline was deemed after publication to be unintentionally misleading, because it was not the student’s refusal to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance that resulted in his arrest, but rather his behavior after being removed from the classroom by a substitute teacher who is no longer allowed to work in that school district because of how she handled the situation.
We have changed the headline to make it more clear that the arrest and the Pledge were not directly related, and we regret any confusion we may have caused.
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