I still can't believe that, in this day and age, there are still people that are ignorant of the laws that dictate what they are and are not allowed to do with regards to their profession.
Three small-town eighth-graders were suspended for not standing at the start of the school day Thursday for the Pledge of Allegiance.
"My son wasn't being defiant against America," said Kim Dahl, mother of one of the students, Brandt, who attends Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton Junior High School in western Minnesota. She said her son offered no reason for sitting.
Brandt told the Fargo Forum that Thursday's one-day in-school suspension, "was kind of dumb because I didn't do anything wrong. It should be the people's choice."
Kim Dahl said the "punishment didn't fit the crime. If they wanted to know why he didn't stand, they should've made him write a paper."
She said that Brandt has not been standing all year, and "all of a sudden it became an in-school suspension."
The district today is defending the punishments. The school's handbook says all students are required to stand but are not obligated to recite the pledge. The same is true for all four schools in the district, a school official said.
"These three [students] didn't, and they got caught," said Mel Olson, the district's community education director. He said he backs the punishment, "being a veteran and a United States of America citizen, absolutely." Olson served in the Marines in Japan during the Vietnam War.
The head of the Minnesota American Civil Liberties Union said that the school's actions against the students are unconstitutional.
"The school can't do that; that's illegal," said Chuck Samuelson, the civil liberties group's executive director. "Wow."
Samuelson said that numerous U.S. Supreme Court rulings dating to the 1940s say that "students who refuse to participate in the pledge cannot be punished for refusing to participate."
Samuelson said he's surprised that any public school district would have such a pledge requirement. In St. Paul, said district spokesman Howie Padilla, "Students can respectfully not participate in the Pledge of Allegiance."
Olson said this morning that a "very nice announcement" was made at the start of the junior high's school today reminding the students that they must stand for the pledge.
Principal Colleen Houglum said that all students this morning were "involved in some fashion" during the pledge, adding that no additional suspensions were needed.
"Our social studies teacher led the pledge, and that was kind of a nice change of pace," Houglum said.
Kim Dahl asked Brandt why he has remained seated all school year, but "he didn't have an answer ... he doesn't get in trouble; he's just a normal 13-year-old."
As for today, she told Brandt to take his cell phone with him to school and text her should he run into trouble again.
"I said you should probably just stand if you're not protesting something."