On the day of February 4th, the 6th grade student who attends the Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Lakeland, Florida, him and his classmates were asked to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, Bay News 9 reported. Instead, the boy said to his substitute teacher that the American flag is racist towards black people.
The teacher recalled the incident in a handwritten statement given to the district. “Why if it was so bad here he did not go to another place to live,” she reportedly said to the student, and the boy replied with, “They brought me here.”
The teacher replied back with, “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.” added the teacher, “Then I had to call the office because I did not want to continue dealing with him.”
According to the Lakeland Police Department, it is not able to release public record for juvenile misdemeanor arrests.
According to Bay News 9, the boy was apprehended by a school resource officer for not following directions, and threatened violence at the substitute teacher, and stated the principal and officer need to be fired.
“I’m upset, I’m angry. I’m hurt. More so for my son,” the boy’s mother Dhakira Talbot said to Bay News 9. “My son has never been through anything like this. I feel like this should’ve been handled differently. If any disciplinary action should’ve been taken, it should’ve been with the school. He shouldn’t have been arrested.” The student says he never threatened the teacher, reported Bay News 9.
“I want the charges dropped and I want the school to be held accountable for what happened because it shouldn’t have been handled the way it was handled,” Talbot continued. The station reports she is working with the non-profit company named the Poor and Minority Justice Association.
A public relations specialist for Polk County Public Schools states that it isn’t a requirement for students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. According to the district handbook, it shows that children are able to opt out “upon written authorization from parent.”
“A student at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy was arrested after becoming disruptive and refusing to follow repeated instructions of school staff and law enforcement,” the specialist said. “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.”
Bay News 9 reports that Talbot said, “She was wrong. She was way out of place. If she felt like there was an issue with my son not standing for the flag, she should’ve resolved that in a way different manner than she did.”
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