Judson HS student kicked out of class for sitting during Pledge of Allegiance

Sophomore stays seated during Pledge of Allegiance

CONVERSE, Texas – A Judson High School student said his teacher is challenging his silent protest to sit out the Pledge of Allegiance.

At only 15 years old, Christian Powell may not be like others his age.

“I watch a lot of news so I’m aware of what’s going on today,” he said.

The NFL player protest over police shootings of African-Americans, the riot in Charlottesville and the anger over anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric are why the Judson High School sophomore said he began his own a silent protest.

Instead of standing in class for the Pledge of Allegiance, Powell said he chose to remain seated.

“I’m respecting everybody else. I’m just sitting silently and not bothering anybody,” Powell said.

But the protest really bothered his teacher, he said.

“The teacher tried to force me to stand, and I really don’t feel like I should have to,” Powell said. 

He said as a result, Thursday was the third straight day his teacher told him to leave the classroom.

“She got mad and she kicked me out,” he said.

Powell said she told him that she expected all of her students to stand.

“She said it’s the law and it’s school policy,” Powell said.

But Darwin Powell, the uncle who raised Christian Powell as his own son, said he read the Judson Independent School District board policy manual. He said there is no law or policy “stating that a child must participate in the recital of the Pledge of Allegiance.”

“A student is able to express themselves to a degree as long as it doesn’t become a problem with the instructional process,” said Steve Linscomb, Judson ISD spokesperson.

Linscomb said all that’s required to allow a student to not stand based on their beliefs is a letter from the parent. But even after submitting the letter Wednesday, Powell’s father said his son was still asked to leave the classroom twice more.

When he tried telling his teacher about the letter, Powell said his teacher told him, “’You’re full of baloney.’ And she was saying a whole bunch of nonsense.”

“Any teacher should not be demeaning a student or making them feel embarrassed of anything of that nature, especially when it comes to freedom of speech,” Linscomb said.

He said if what the teacher said is verified, “That will be dealt with in an appropriate manner, according to board policy.”

Linscomb said otherwise, the student will not face any consequences and that he’s been offered a choice whether to remain seated or step outside the classroom during the pledge.

Powell’s father said he’s proud of his son for expressing himself concerning social issues.

Powell is a track and field athlete who takes Advanced Placement courses and earns As and Bs in his classes. His father said he’s “a good kid, well-mannered, very disciplined.”

Powell said it’s not that he doesn’t love his country, “it’s just that there are certain things I don’t agree with today.”

Link: Judson ISD policy on Pledge of Allegiance 

Link: Judson ISD policy on student expression

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