"They Should've Handled This Differently"

An 11-year-old Florida student was arrested for refusing to say the pledge of allegiance, according to the child’s mother and lawyer. The school claims that the sixth grader became disruptive before being taken into custody.



The drama began when a substitute teacher at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Lakeland, Florida, demanded that the student joined his classmates in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the country. It was then that the 11-year-old refused to follow such admonition and told the teacher that the pledge was offensive to African Americans such as himself. The substitute then proceeded to exchange words with the child, according to her report, and eventually called security for help with the matter.

Security and the police claim that the child disrupted the classroom, which is what led to his arrest. The 11-year-old’s attorney, however, says that no such chaos occurred and that the authorities overreacted to the situation.

“It’s our position that the police report has been largely fabricated in order to justify the wrongful arrest,” the lawyer stipulates. “They interjected the word racist to mischaracterize the event.”

The 11-year-old’s mother agrees. “I’m upset, I’m angry. I’m hurt,” she reveals to the media. “My son has never been through anything like this. And I feel like they should’ve handled this differently. If any disciplinary action should’ve been taken, it should’ve been with the school.”

Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Lakeland strives to build an environment that lets children maintain their first amendment rights. As such, the school does not require students to recite the pledge of allegiance. Administrators claim that the substitute teacher was not aware of their policy regarding the pledge but do not completely condemn the substitute’s actions that led to the child’s eventual arrest.

“We do not condone the substitute’s behavior,” the school’s district said in a recent statement. “We respect our students’ right to freedom of expression and we are committed to protecting that critical right while ensuring peaceful classrooms so all students can learn.”

Stay tuned for more viral kids news!

Photo: Lawton Chiles Middle Academy



Sarie is a writer and editor for BCK's Los Angeles division. She also shares stories on Medium that are meant to encourage thought and discussion. You can catch her outside enjoying nature and classical literature. Pop culture is pretty fun, too!

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