We know some students have it rough when it comes to sitting down during the Pledge of Allegiance, but rarely have I seen a principal become as unhinged as Gerard LeBlanc of Thomas Jefferson High School in Gretna, Louisiana did.
On December 5, 2014… the school principal Gerard LeBlanc made a morning announcement stating that all students are required to stand for the Pledge of Alliance.
… Principal LeBlanc told [a student] that she is required to stand for the Pledge and that she should also do so out of “respect” and “courtesy.”
As a punishment [for not standing], Principal LeBlanc told [the student] that she would be required to report to the principal’s office every morning that she refuses to participate in the Pledge. [The student] reluctantly said “okay” to which Principal LeBlanc replied, “Where you will stand with me.” She once again informed him she would not be standing for the Pledge. At that point, Principal LeBlanc demanded that [the student] bring her mother into school on Monday December 8, 2014, for a meeting with the principal. Another student similarly reports that the principal announced that all students will have to stand for the Pledge or else they will be punished.
At that point, the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center stepped in and sent the district a letter warning them of the legal consequences of continuing to push students to stand. The AHA requested that the meeting essentially be canceled (since there was nothing worth discussing), and that the school remind teachers and students that no one has to stand for the Pledge.
Problem solved? Not quite.
Late last week, the AHA heard from that student again. Things had only gotten worse:
Yesterday [the student] was in the principal’s office to turn in some papers and observed the principal “yelling” the words to the Pledge. She then observed the principal instruct a nearby school employee: “say it loud, make them mad.”
That resulted in a second letter to the district (they never responded to the first one).
Today, the district finally got back to the AHA and promised this shit wouldn’t happen again:
Today, the Jefferson Parish Public School System made written assurances to the legal center that the matter is being addressed. School officials stated that “No disciplinary or retaliatory action will be taken against any JPPSS student who exercises his or her constitutional rights.”
We’ll see if the principal acts in accordance with that. Administrators who get that visibly upset over a student not standing for the Pledge need to rethink their career choice.
(Image via Shutterstock)