Pledge of Allegiance: Teacher Suspended for Forcing Student to Join In

Thursday, 07 Nov 2013 08:30 AM

By Ken Mandel

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After reportedly attempting to force a student to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance last month, a teacher at a Florida elementary school was suspended for five days and must complete diversity training.

The teacher, Anne Daigle-McDonald, works at Explorer K8 in Spring Hill, Fla. The incident took place on Sept. 11.

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The student is a Jehovah's Witness, and thus isn't allowed to worship objects. He reportedly tried to explain that the Daigle-McDonald, and told her that he stood during the Pledge to show respect for the United States, but couldn't place his hand over his heart, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Several students revealed during the investigation that McDonald lectured the class the next day, stating: "In my classroom, everyone will do the pledge; no religion says that you can't do the pledge. If you can't put your hand on your heart, then you need to move out of the country," the Times said.

"(The parents) reported to me that Ms. McDonald had pulled (the student's) arm to force him to put his hand on his heart and told him that he is an American and needed to show respect," Explorer Assistant Principal Kristina Garofano wrote in the investigation, according to Hernando Today. "(One parent) stated that she had informed Ms. McDonald on the very first day of (the student) attending EK8 that their family were Jehovah's Witnesses and they did not celebrate holidays."

In her own defense, McDonald told school administrators that she thought the religion only applied to holidays and that she believes every U.S. citizen should honor the American flag.

The district said that McDonald violated a number of state education rules, professional conduct principles, and the student's right to free speech and freedom of religion.

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