The student who sits during the Pledge….

Klein ISD is facing potential liability over the treatment of a student who refused to stand during the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.  The case has a long way to go. All that has happened so far is that the court refused to dismiss the case. The court ruled that the allegations in the suit stated a possible violation of the constitutional rights of a student. So the case continues.

The suit alleges that the 17-year old girl was repeatedly harassed and treated badly by teachers for her refusal to stand for the Pledge.  Texas law allows a student to not participate in this daily exercise with parental approval. This student’s parent approved.  So the student should have been excused from participation, but the suit alleges that the girl caught ten kinds of grief from teachers who objected to her viewpoint, while the school administration did nothing about it.

Of course the district had all the proper written policies in place, but the court held that there was something else going on, or at least, that the lawsuit alleged this to be the case:

The plaintiffs’ allegations support an inference that Klein ISD had an unwritten custom or practice of requiring students to stand during the Pledge and of disciplining and harassing students who refused to stand.

The suit enumerates several incidents involving several teachers.  The most gobsmacking allegation in the case is that one teacher compared those who refuse to stand with “Soviet communists, members of the Islamic faith seeking to impose Sharia law, and those who condone pedophilia.”  Whoa.  This same teacher required the kids to listen to and reflect upon Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.” The court noted that the teacher “apparently did not listen to the words or he did not understand them.”

We will have more to say about this one tomorrow, when we talk about the teacher who claimed qualified immunity.  Stay tuned. The case is Arceneaux v. Klein ISD. The court’s ruling on the preliminary motion to dismiss was issued by the federal court for the Southern District of Texas on May 22, 2018 and we found it at 2018 WL 2317565.


Tomorrow: Can a teacher be personally liable for punishing a student who refuses to say the Pledge?