Karen Smith has pleaded guilty to one count of child abuse resulting in injury, reports 9News.com. Smith taught middle school in Boulder, Colorado, and had been with the district for more than 20 years. She has been sentenced to an 18-month deferred sentence. Her guilty plea will be removed from her record and withdrawn if she is able to complete the 18-month period without getting involved in another criminal case.
Smith, 60, has also retired from teaching and will not be returning to Angevine Middle School. The incident that has led to the court case occurred in February. The Daily Camera reported that Officers responded to investigate the incident. One of Smith’s students had refused to stand for the morning’s recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, and she then reportedly forced the student to his feet by his jacket and removed him from the classroom.
The Boulder Valley School District, which Angevine Middle School is part of, does not require students to stand during the pledge. The official policy is to allow them to sit or stand. Per the 1943 Supreme Court decision, West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, school districts and public state education boards are not allowed to require students to salute the flag when saying Pledge of Allegiance.
The Daily Camera also reported that Smith had originally pleaded not guilty in the case, and a trial date was set for October. With this new plea bargain deal in place and accepted, that trial date has, of course, been vacated. An additional charge of assault in the third degree was dropped as part of the plea bargain agreement as well. While the case was pending, Smith was on paid administrative leave until her official retirement. The deal did not necessarily state she could never teach again, but she is not allowed to teach for the 18-month deferred sentence duration.
Her retirement was made official as of August 20, 2018. The Colorado Department of Education has not yet revoked her teaching license, but the court order would prevent her from contesting such an action should they decide to do so. Her license is currently still listed as active in their database.
In Colorado, students in public schools are required to recite the pledge per state law, but many districts do not require students to stand. This student is not the first to create controversy by refusing, and the issue of mandatory recitation of the Pledge has been under fire for some time.