It has been legal for students to sit, or otherwise not participate in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance since 1943 when the “U.S. Supreme Court said students have the right to decide whether to participate in the pledge.” But that didn’t stop a Farmington Hills, Michigan teacher consultant from violently yanking a student out of his chair last week.
When school began this year, 11-year-old Stone Chaney was eager to attend classes at his new school, East Middle School in southeastern Michigan. That came crashing to an abrupt end on September 7, when his visions of happiness and stability in school were brought to a violent end. He chose to sit during the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance. During an interview with WDIV TV, Chaney described the incident:
The teacher consultant comes up behind me and snatches me out of my chair violently. I was so confused. I didn’t know what was going on.
Stone has not stood up to salute the American flag ― instead choosing to honor God and his family ― while at school without incident for several years, according to the Washington Post. In an answering statement, Farmington Public Schools Superintendent George Heitsch said:
The District fully supports the right of each student to participate or not in the daily Pledge. The teacher allegedly involved in the incident has been placed on administrative leave. At this time, the District cannot speculate about the outcome of the pending investigation.
Chaney’s father, Brian Chaney, who works as a social worker in a different Michigan school district, attended the Farmington Hills meeting of the school board to testify on behalf of his son:
He told the board that his son was also involved in another incident with faculty during the Pledge of Allegiance, a day after the first one occurred. In the second instance, Chaney said a substitute teacher “berated” Stone for not standing during the pledge and asked the student if he was “just lazy.”
According to the Huffington Post, Brian Chaney’s testimony also added that he was:
very disappointed that when we dropped our son off into the hands of East Middle School, we thought it would be nurturing hands… where he could feel safe. What was done to my son was wrong. For him to be violently snatched out of his chair by a lady … is a violation of his civil rights. It’s a violation.
The teacher that yanked young Chaney out of his chair is on suspension while the school district conducts an investigation. Hopefully, additional training on student’s rights is also on their agenda. Stone Chaney has not returned to school since the incident and will probably exercise his right to attend school in a different district.
The people tasked with teaching our young children how to respect the rights of everyone shouldn’t be involved in incidents like this. They should know and respect the rights of our children to be free thinkers and to make decisions such as not standing during the pledge.
Featured image from YouTube video