After likely seeing NFL players, coaches and team owners kneeling in peaceful protest during the playing of the national anthem prior to games last weekend, a 6-year-old Florida boy took a knee at school Monday for the Pledge of the Allegiance, and his mother isn’t happy about how the school handled it.
Eugenia McDowell told ABC News that she didn’t know her son was going to kneel for the daily pledge at Wiregrass Elementary School in Wesley Chapel, Fla., and found out in a text message from his teacher Monday night.
The message read: “I knew where he had seen it [going down on one knee], but I did tell him that in the classroom, we are learning what it means to be a good citizen, we’re learning about respecting the United States of America and our country symbols and showing loyalty and patriotism and that we stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.”
McDowell believes her son was “publicly admonished” and that his right to freedom of speech was denied. The school contends that they have a rule for those who do not wish to participate in standing for the pledge: parents can send a written note excusing their child.
Pasco County School District Spokesperson Linda Cobbe also said she doesn’t believe the boy was “admonished,” saying the teacher mouthed the words “We stand for the pledge” when the boy took a knee.
The mother wrote an email to the school saying she might have to consider changing her son’s classroom unless the teacher apologizes and shows remorse. However, McDowell later learned that her son had already been assigned to a new teacher.
“What he did was have a difference of opinion. He was not being disrespectful. He was silently protesting and exercising his Constitutional right,” McDowell said.