BROWNSVILLE (KDKA) — Are students required to say the Pledge of Allegiance at school?
That was the question that confronted school officials at the Brownsville Middle School and the wrong answer has resulted in a federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The issue involved a student, who for her own personal beliefs, refuses to stand during the morning pledge.
Her mother, Carolyn Raja, who would not talk on camera, backs up her child, as do other Brownsville Middle School parents.
Parent 1: “If you don’t want to stand, don’t stand. It’s up to you. It’s your right, your right.”
Parent 2: “I believe that it is a freedom of choice that each child should do as they were brought up.”
But the school district took a different stance.
According to the federal complaint, the homeroom teacher told the student that her failure to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance showed great disrespect to the men and women in the service dying overseas.
This matter reached the highest levels of the school district where the student was told she would have to serve lunchroom detention and two days of suspension.
The school solicitor says it was all a big misunderstanding.
“From our perspective, at least in part it’s a misunderstanding and we’re hoping that it’s been resolved now,” Uniontown attorney Jim Davis told KDKA’s Jon Delano.
Davis, the school district solicitor, says he is fully aware of U.S. Supreme Court cases protecting a student’s right not to say the pledge.
“I can assure you that moving forward that we’re going to protect her constitutional right to sit, if that’s her choice, during the Pledge of Allegiance. And if it’s her choice, no one will interfere with that and we’re going to protect her right to do that.”
Davis says that the student will not be made to serve any detention or suspension.
Since a famous Supreme Court case nearly 70 years ago, students have not been required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
Davis says the school district and the ACLU, on behalf of the student, are likely to reach a consent agreement.