A Lafayette, Colorado middle school teacher is on leave after she allegedly assaulted a student who refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.
The incident occurred on Tuesday and police confirmed to the Times-Call that officers responded to the school some time around noon to investigate a report of an assault. The teacher, Karen Smith, has been at Angevine Middle School for twenty years and teaches physical education.
Boulder Valley School District spokesman Randy Barber said that Smith is on paid administrative leave while the district works with the Lafayette Police Department to investigate the the incident. He declined to comment on the ongoing investigation but did say that Boulder Valley School District’s policy is to allow students to sit or stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.
On Thursday evening, the district sent home a letter to parents saying that a substitute will be replacing Smith until the investigation is complete. The letter was signed by Angevine Middle School Principal Mike Medina and read “we are dedicated, as always, to supporting our students and ensuring that we have qualified educators working with them during their physical education time.” Medina also wrote “While I cannot share much information, following an incident today at school, Ms. Smith was placed on paid administrative leave. We are working closely with our partners at the Lafayette Police Department. We believe in due process and therefore ask that everyone respect Ms. Smith’s privacy at this time.”
This isn’t the first time that we’ve seen things get heated in a classroom when a student chose not to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. Here are just a few recent cases from the last year:
- In October a student in Houston filed a lawsuit against her school after she says that she was expelled for not standing during the Pledge of Allegiance.
- In September, a Michigan teacher was placed on leave after she allegedly assaulted a 6th-grader who sat during the Pledge of Allegiance.
- In June, an Indiana mother filed a lawsuit claiming that one of her son’s teachers forced him to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance.
- In March, a teacher in Chicago was fired for telling a student to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Of course, students don’t have to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance. The laws governing the Pledge of Allegiance in the classroom were decided back in 1943, when the Supreme Court presided over West Virginia State Board of Education vs. Barnette. In 1942, the West Virginia BOE passed a mandate requiring students and teachers to salute the flag. Two sisters refused to salute the flag because they were Jehovah’s Witnesses and believed that it violated the second commandment.
The court sided with the Barnette sisters on a 6-3 vote and in his opinion, Justice Jackson wrote that making it mandatory for students to salute the flag during the Pledge of Allegiance is a violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.