There has been quite a bit of controversy surrounding the Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Lakeland, Florida, after an 11-year-old student was placed under arrest following an incident that arose from the sixth-grader's refusal to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Now, the student is charged with a misdemeanor and the substitute teacher involved in the incident is no longer allowed to teach at the school.
But is this incident being blown out of proportion? Well, it depends who you ask.
Kyle Kennedy, spokesman for the Polk County Public School District, which oversees the school, told The Ledger that the student "was arrested after becoming disruptive and refusing to follow repeated instructions by school staff and law enforcement."
Kennedy went on to say that the student was not arrested because he didn't stand for the pledge - as the school does not require students to stand for the Pledge - but instead arrested because of the way he acted towards the teacher when she confronted him on his claims that "the flag is racist and the national anthem is offensive to black people."
This policy was apparently not known by Ana Alvarez, the substitute teacher involved in the incident. According to Kennedy, when the student refused to stand for the Pledge and made his claims about racism, Alvarez told the student, "Why if it was so bad here he did not go to another place to live?"
When the school's resource officer responded to the teacher's request, he decided to place the student under arrest after witnessing him being disruptive and making verbal threats in the classroom.
Dhakira Talbot, the boy's mother, still doesn't understand why her son needed to placed in handcuffs and charged with a misdemeanor just because he refused to stand for the Pledge.
"[Alvarez] was wrong. She was way out of place," Talbot told The Ledger. "If she felt like there was an issue with my son not standing for the flag, she should’ve resolved that in a way different manner than she did."
Talbot expanded on that statement during an interview with the NBC Nightly News (via NBC 8 News) stating: "What happened that day, my son was doing what I asked him to do. I told my son that you stand up for yourself. Because in the way this world is today, if you don't stand up for yourself, no one will."
And now Talbot and her son aren't the only ones who think that Alvarez didn't find the best way to handle the situation as she has been banned from subbing at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy or any other school in the district for the foreseeable future.
"Our HR department will contact Kelly Services, which provides our substitutes, to further refine how our substitutes are trained,” Kennedy told The Ledger.
Kennedy also stated that the district will be re-examining its training policies to prevent any incident like this happening in the future.
What do you think? Did the student deserve to be arrested after refusing to stand for the Pledge? Did the teacher need to get the school resource officer involved? And did she deserve to be banned from the school district?
Let us know in the comments below.
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