When it comes to the case of the Black Texas high school student who was temporarily expelled for refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, the state’s Attorney General, Ken Paxton, has joined the lawsuit and defended the school’s decision.
In a news release, Paxton defended the state law that requires schoolchildren to say the Pledge of Allegiance and joined the lawsuit that was filed against the Cypress Fairbanks school district last October by Kizzy Landry. Landry sued the district and several officials after her daughter, India, was kicked out of school for sitting during the Pledge.
While Landry supported her child's decision to sit and said it was her constitutional right, Paxton argued: "School children cannot unilaterally refuse to participate in the pledge."
"Requiring the pledge to be recited at the start of every school day has the laudable result of fostering respect for our flag and a patriotic love of our country," Paxton said in a prepared statement. "This case is about providing for the saying of the pledge of allegiance while respecting the parental right to direct the education of children."
Texas does allow parents to submit a waiver allowing their children to sit during the Pledge, but Landry, according to Paxton, did not file the paperwork before her daughter first refused to stand.
The case is set for trial April 15. Experts said its outcome could have ripple effects nationwide, especially considering how it comes at the heels of the NFL kneeling debate.
"We've only ever seen one case litigated involving the mandate to say the Pledge in modern history," free speech expert Frank LoMonte told the Dallas Morning News. "If this one were to go up [to the U.S. Supreme Court], it would be quite influential, not just in Texas but across the country as the first of its kind."
A high school senior in Houston was reportedly kicked out of school for sitting during the Pledge of Allegiance.
The New York Daily News reports that India Landry, a 17-year-old student at Windfern High School, previously sat “hundreds of times” during the pledge since beginning at the school. That didn’t matter to principal Martha Strother, who expelled her on Monday (October 2) for her protest.
In reaction to her expulsion, Landry’s family is bringing a federal lawsuit against the school alleging that India was threatened by police and that her First Amendment rights were violated. Her mother, Kizzy, told the Daily News on Saturday that directly after the incident of her actually being noticed as sitting, police made threats toward her daughter unless she showed up within five minutes to pick her up.
“I see what’s going on with the country,” Kizzy said. “I thought let me hurry up and get to my baby before something happens to her.”
The teen was reportedly allowed to return to the school on Friday, however she’s not comfortable any more at Windfern High. She also plans on continuing to sit for the pledge.
“Students cannot be instantly expelled except for being a danger,” Randall Kallinen, the family’s lawyer, said. “The only danger appeared to be that her sitting whipped Principal Strother into a political frenzy.”
“Police brutality” and “Donald Trump being President” are the reasons India gave for sitting during the Pledge.
Watch a local news package about what went down below.
(Photo: khou 11 News)