The mother of the Florida 6th grader who was arrested after he refused to stand for the pledge of allegiance says the school mishandled the situation.
Dhakira Talbot’s son, who attends Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Lakeland, refused a substitute teacher’s order to stand during the Pledge of Alliance, something the school has admitted he didn’t actually have to do.
“What happened that day, my son was doing what I asked him to do. I told my son that you stand up for yourself. Because in the way this world is today, if you don’t stand up for yourself, no one will,” Talbot told NBC Nightly News.
The student reportedly told the teacher that the flag was racist against Black people.
Police charged the unidentified 11-year-old student with disrupting a school function and resisting arrest without violence after he was kicked out of class, Bay 9 News reports.
In a statement to the district, the substitute teacher reportedly told the student, “Why if it was so bad here he did not go to another place to live.” She said he then said, “they brought me here.”
She claims he replied by saying, “Well you can always go back, because I came here from Cuba and the day I feel I’m not welcome here anymore I would find another place to live.”
She wrote, “Then I had to call the office because I did not want to continue dealing with him.”
“I just think that they didn’t handle it the way they should have handled it,” Talbot told NBC.
The Polk County School District issued a statement, saying:
“The student was arrested after becoming disruptive and refusing to follow repeated instructions by school staff and law enforcement. This incident followed the daily Pledge of Allegiance in the classroom.
“To be clear, the student was NOT arrested for refusing to participate in the pledge; students are not required to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance. Unfortunately, a substitute teacher was not aware of this, and she engaged in an exchange of words with the student and called the school’s administration to come to her classroom. The school’s resource officer, who is permanently assigned to the campus, also responded to the substitute’s classroom but was not called by the administration regarding the incident.”
“She was wrong. She was way out of place,” Talbot said about the teacher. “If she felt like there was an issue with my son not standing for the flag, she should’ve resolved that in a way different manner than she did,” Talbot said.
The teacher reportedly no longer is allowed to teach in the district.