High School Teacher Forces Student to Stand for the Pledge: “I Don’t Care About the Law!” October 28, 2015

High School Teacher Forces Student to Stand for the Pledge: “I Don’t Care About the Law!”

Last week, at East Syracuse Minoa Central High School in New York, a student remained seated during the Pledge of Allegiance, only to have her teacher flip out as if she did something wrong.

The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center explained the situation in a letter to the District:

… the classroom teacher, Mr. Suddaby, inexplicably reacted to the subject with great hostility toward those who opt out of the Pledge, and toward the student in question in particular. When the student correctly mentioned in the discussion that she has the right to opt out, Mr. Suddaby lashed out at her, calling her “disrespectful” and “selfish,” even using profanities, and saying that from now on she would be forced to stand. “I don’t care about the law,” he reportedly said at one point. His aggressive and intimidating behavior inflicted great distress on the student, to the point that she broke down in tears, yet he still went on for several minutes thereafter. When the class broke for lunch, the student went to counseling and was unable to return to the class after lunch. She was so shaken up that she had to stay home the next day.

Suddaby apologized to her days later, but only with an administrator in the room, and only for the fact that her feelings were hurt. Which is what you say when you insist you did nothing wrong. (He at least apologized to the class for being “rude.”)

While the administration took some action by monitoring his class for a day, there’s no indication this won’t happen again. So the AHA is asking for more concrete steps to be taken. They want students and teachers to be reminded that no one has to stand up for the Pledge. They want teachers to be notified never to dissuade students from staying seated. And they want to make sure no student ever gets punished for non-participation in the ritual.

According to the student in question, “other students at the school have been harassed and intimidated by other teachers over Pledge participation.” So this may not have been a one-time problem.

Here’s a reminder to students that you don’t have to stand for this sort of treatment, either. Report any violations of the law to DontSayThePledge.com.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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