Emotions Cloud Logic: The Girl Who Sat Through The
Pledge & The School Staff Who Punished Her
The girl is said to be an "A" student and described by her mother on CBS network television
news as an 8th grader "concerned with the state of the country." Therefore, the Brownsville
student quietly sits through the Pledge of Allegiance and was punished for doing so. Her
mother filed a lawsuit on her child's behalf, seeking punitive damages from the district,
superintendent, principal and teacher, for alleged constitutional violations and to get the
punishments to stop.
With ACLU involvement, the case was about to be settled, when veterans and residents
swayed the board last week instead to fight the case in court. The show of patriotism by the
community was wonderful. Yes, had we sat through the pledge, we would've been grounded at
home and would have returned to school the next day to stand. No question.
The thought just wouldn't have ever crossed our minds to sit through the pledge, unless our
legs were broken or some other physical problem prevented us from standing.
But the girl's right to sit out the pledge in quiet protest and not interfer with the right of
others to recite the pledge are rights protected by law. As a result of the board backing out
of the settlement agreement, the district's insurance carrier stepped out of the picture,
leaving the district now solely responsible to pay all costs of any settlement that may result if
the district loses its case fighting in court. The district is so financially strapped as it is.
Concern seems only natural after hearing that school staff reportedly threatened to charge
the child with disorderly conduct for sitting out the pledge, and reportedly vowed to issue a
written, standing only policy, that conflicts with 60-year-old law protecting the child's right to
Throw into the pot that the child's teacher reportedly admonished the child in class with
statements such as soldiers were dying for the seated child overseas. Emotion that we
certainly feel, however, clouded logic in the board's decision to fight the case.
These alleged above mentioned reactions from adult district staff to the seated girl are the
whole case to the ACLU. Its trump card has to be that the student's family lawyer sent an
ignored cease and desist letter, stating that the girl had a legal right to sit out the pledge
under referenced federal law.
The cease and desist letter demanded that the district stop punishing the girl with in and out
of school detention. Two days after receiving the cease and desist letter, staff, reportedly,
continued to issue punishments. Why?
Why didn't the district consult with the solicitor immediately and ask whether there was any
validity to claims made in a letter from the student's family lawyer that the punishment was
illegal and a violation of rights and law? This is why solicitors are under contract or on retainer
for public funded entities, no?
None of this should have gone this far.
We are unable to confirm that the district did or did not consult with the solicitor right away.
But can we see a show of hands if anyone believes that that solicitor would have instructed
school staff or administrators to ignore the cease and desist letter and do as they pleased?
May the force be with the school solicitor now. His won't be an easy job to defend the actions
of these professional adults, with no insurance carrier left in the picture to pick up the tab, if
these things about them are all true.
If the accusations against the superintendent, principal and teacher are false, should the
district have been preparing to sign a settlement at all? How will that appear to a jury?
This started as a case of a middle school student who irritated us by refusing to stand for the
pledge. It appears to have turned into the case where the adults at the school reportedly
reacted with semi-tantrums in a tizzy.
Soldiers overseas are dying for the sitting student, but dying so that she also has a right to
sit. The teacher was only half right. To a jury, how can that not be wrong? (20 May 12)
20 May 12