An Illinois high school teacher was disciplined for attempting to force a student to stand for the pledge of allegiance, CBS Chicago is reporting.
Kelly Porter admits that her 15-year-old son, Shemar Cooper, was “a little disrespectful” in the way he went about refusing to stand, but claims that the way school officials – especially his Spanish teacher – reacted was above and beyond what was necessary.
Two weeks ago, Shemar was in Spanish class at Blue Island High School in suburban Chicago when the school participated in the pledge. Shemar refused to stand, and when approached by the unidentified teacher, he said “America sucks.” She made him apologize and sent him to the principal’s office. Porter also says that the teacher and other school officials “harassed” Shemar about his actions.
The next time, the teacher was less forgiving. Shemar once again refused to stand for the pledge, and the teacher tried to physically force him out of his seat. And at a third incident two days later, Porter says Shemar was pulled out of class and “reprimanded.”
Porter complained to school officials and, after an investigation, determined that the teacher was out of line. Michael Stillman, an attorney for Community High School District 218, wouldn’t say how the teacher was disciplined, citing confidentiality, but did say that her actions did not rise to the level of a fireable offense.
Kelly Porter, however, cleared up any ambiguity about the discipline, saying the teacher was suspended. She did not say for how long.
“I am very happy with the outcome, and what this tells me is my son’s First Amendment right was definitely violated. I’m grateful that the teacher was reprimanded, suspended, because it sends a message to other schools that you cannot violate children’s First Amendment right and get away with it.”
She also says that she harbors no ill will towards the teacher.
“As long as she was held accountable, and she’ll never do it again. You know, everybody has to learn from their mistakes. I’m not a hard or cold-hearted person. I’m very forgiving. I have released any anger that I had towards his teacher.”
And as for Shemar?
“I’m so proud of this little boy that I’ve raised, and I’m so proud of who I’ve raised him to be; to stand up for what you believe in, and in this case, to sit down.”
This is not the first time that a student has gotten into hot water for refusing to stand during the pledge of allegiance.
Back in 2015, the Inquisitr reported on the story of New Hampshire 8th-grader Fatima Smart. The 14-year-old said that she didn’t want to stand for the pledge because she believes the U.S. government makes bad decisions, and she didn’t want like pretending to believe in something she didn’t believe in. She said that her teacher made an example of her and “bullied” her by making her stand outside of the classroom, telling other kids that they could stand outside too if they wanted to “be like Fatima.”
Whether school officials like the idea or not, students in American schools have the constitutional right to not stand during the pledge of allegiance, says American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney Lee Rowland.
“The Supreme Court ruling that states students cannot be forced to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance is over 70 years old and no public school in the country has the right to force a student to participate in it.”
Do you believe that the Illinois teacher who attempted to force a student to stand for the pledge of allegiance deserved to be disciplined?
[Image via Shutterstock/Kraevski Vitaly]