A Tampa-area sixth grade student is facing misdemeanor charges after an argument with his teacher that started when he refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and then escalated into disruptive behavior, officials told The Washington Post on Monday.
After the 11-year-old student, who is black, refused the teacher’s request to stand for the pledge because he said it represented racism, the teacher called the district office, saying she did not want to continue dealing with the student, according to an affidavit.
Officials said the situation escalated as the student yelled at the dean and a school resource officer who arrived and then repeatedly refused to leave the room.
The student was later charged with disruption of school and resisting an officer without violence. The Lakeland Police Department stressed in a news release that the student was not arrested for refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, but for making “threats and resisting the officer’s efforts to leave the classroom.”
In response to the incident, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida said on Twitter that “This is outrageous. Students do not lose their First Amendment rights when they enter the schoolhouse gates. This is a prime example of the over-policing of Black students in school.”
The student’s mother, Dhakira Talbot told Bay News 9 that the school overstepped its authority after her son was taken to a juvenile detention center and suspended for three days after the incident earlier this month.
“If any disciplinary action should’ve been taken, it should’ve been with the school,” she said. “He shouldn’t have been arrested.”
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