Florida middle-schooler arrested for not saying pledge of allegiance
LAKELAND, Fla. - An 11-year-old boy who refused to recite the pledge of allegiance ended up arrested over it.
Now his mother is demanding the charges be dropped.
"I'm upset. I'm angry. I'm hurt," the child's mother, Dhakira Talbot said. "More so for my son. [He] has never been through anything like this, and I feel they should've handled this differently."
The Feb. 4 incident started when a substitute teacher asked the sixth grader at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy to stand up for the pledge. He told the substitute that the flag was racist and the national anthem was offensive to black people.
The district said the sub asked the child if it was so bad here, why didn't he live somewhere else? The student told her, "They brought me here."
She then told him, "Well you can always go back." The teacher said she is from Cuba and when the day comes that she feels unwelcome here, then she'll find somewhere else to live.
"She was wrong. She was way out of place," Talbot said.
The sub then wrote that she called the office because she "didn't want to continue dealing with him."
The arrest report says the student was arrested because he refused to follow multiple commands, repeatedly called school leaders racists, and was disruptive. They said he threatened to get the school resource officer and principal fired and to beat the teacher, an accusation he says is untrue.
He was arrested and taken to juvenile detention.
"I want the charges dropped and I want the school to be held accountable and the officer for what happened. Because it shouldn't have been handled the way it was handled," Talbot said.
A school district spokeswoman said students aren't required to participate in the pledge of allegiance, but the substitute teacher wasn't aware of this. Additionally, the sub will not be allowed to work at any of the district's schools.
The district is looking into the matter.