A Connecticut school district has settled a lawsuit with a student who said she was “mocked and shamed” for not standing during the Pledge of Allegiance. That settlement includes paying the student’s legal bills and acknowledging that no one has to stand for the Pledge.
This story took shape last October when a student at Waterbury Arts Magnet School filed the lawsuit against Italian language teacher Ralph Belvedere. The student and her mother Gina Humber said that, multiple times in September and October, students of color in Belvedere’s class chose not to stand for the Pledge in protest of “their belief that African-Americans suffer from racial discrimination in the United States.”
The proper response from a teacher would have been to… just let them. Because why the hell not?
Belvedere allegedly took a different approach.
[Belvedere] mocked and shamed them by thanking and praising the students who have stood while accusing the plaintiff of being “dishonest” in her expression of belief. He has falsely accused the plaintiff of not doing her classwork and on one occasion brought another teacher into the classroom to lecture the students on their supposed lack of patriotism.
As a result, the plaintiff has been frightened and intimidated and has suffered emotional distress and anxiety.
Humber said she alerted the Waterbury Board of Education about all this, but they didn’t take any action to stop it. That’s why they were sued in addition to the teacher himself.
And now it’s all over with the District waving a flag of surrender by settling a case it was surely going to lose.
The Waterbury Board of Education and teacher agreed to settle the federal lawsuit, which was dismissed Feb. 9 as a result of the deal. The girl’s lawyer says officials agreed students don’t have to take part in the pledge and will pay her legal fees, which weren’t disclosed.
It’s the right move, and it all could have been avoided if the school board had simply agreed months ago that Belvedere’s actions were reprehensible. Instead, they fought back until they realized they no longer could.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link. Large portions of this article were published earlier)