11-year-old arrested after refusing to participate in Pledge of Allegiance

LAKELAND, Fl. — A Florida mother is demanding justice after her 11-year-old was arrested after refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

The sixth grader at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy was arrested Feb. 4 and taken to a juvenile detention center, charged with disrupting a school function and resisting arrest without violence.

It’s a decision that’s not sitting well with the student’s mother Dhakira Talbot, who says her son is in gifted classes and has been bullied at the school before.

“I’m upset, I’m angry, I’m hurt. More so for my son. My son has never been through anything like this, and I feel they should’ve handled this differently, Talbot said.”

The incident started when a substitute teacher asked the 11-year-old boy to stand up for the pledge. He reportedly told the substitute teacher the flag was racist and the national anthem was offensive to black people.

In a statement to the district, the substitute teacher reported telling the 11-year-old boy why, if it was so bad here, he did not go to another place to live. She said the boy then said, “they brought me here,” and she said she told the boy, “well you can always go back,” because she was from Cuba and the day she felt unwelcome here, she’d find somewhere else to live.

“She was wrong. She was way out of place,” Talbot said.

The substitute teacher then wrote she called the office because she “didn’t want to continue dealing with him.”

According to the arrest affidavit, the student was arrested because he refused to follow multiple commands, repeatedly called school leaders racist and was disruptive.

They said he threatened to get the school resource officer and principal fired and to beat the teacher, an accusation he says is just not true.

Talbot said, “I want the charges dropped and I want the school to be held accountable and the officer for what happened. Because it shouldn’t have been handled the way it was handled.”

A spokeswoman with the school district said students aren’t required to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance, but the substitute teacher wasn’t aware of this. The spokeswoman said the substitute teacher will no longer be able to work at any of the district’s schools and the district is still looking into the matter.

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