A New Hampshire teenager and her family are waiting for an apology from her school nearly two months after she claims she was bullied for refusing to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance, WMUR (Manchester) is reporting.
Fatima Smart, 14, was a student at Monadnock Regional Middle School in Swanzey, New Hampshire. One day in March, she decided she was no longer going to participate in the daily Pledge of Allegiance at her school.
“I don’t like our government at all. I think they are making bad decisions, and I didn’t stand. I don’t like pretending to believe in something I don’t believe in to please others … They have their rights, and I have mine.”
The law is on her side. American Civil Liberties Union attorney Lee Rowland tells Opposing Views that saying the Pledge of Allegiance is strictly voluntary in public schools.
“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.”
Nevertheless, for whatever reason, Fatima’s teacher that day wouldn’t let stand Fatima’s decision not to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance. Fatima claims the teacher “bullied” her and made an example of her in front of her peers.
“She kind of used me as an example in front of the class to say that, ‘You have to stand for the flag salute, or you can be like Fatima and wait outside.’ “
Fatima’s parents, mother Kerry Boscarino and stepfather Steve Boscarino, want an apology from the school.
“They intimidated and humiliated our daughter, and it’s become a public spectacle because of their lack of humility to extend an apology.”
Superintendent Keith Pfeifer has declined to discuss specifics of Fatima’s Pledge of Allegiance incident. He told WMUR that he “disagrees” with the teenager’s side of the story, but declined to elaborate. He also claims that school employees have been educated about the law, but again, declined to elaborate.
Fatima’s parents have pulled her out of public school, as they wait for an apology that is likely not forthcoming. She’ll attend charter school next year. Meanwhile, her mother says that the family may have no choice but to sue over her daughter’s bullying, according to CBS Boston.
“When you’re just asking to sit down and have the teacher and the student come to terms with each other just so that there can be peace in the school and they don’t want to cooperate, what else are you going to do but fight?”
Do you think that Fatima and her family are owed an apology over her being bullied for refusing to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Image courtesy of: Shutterstock/tobkatrina]