Texas student sues school over Pledge of Allegiance dispute

Wednesday, 11 Oct, 2017

A high school student has sued her school system after she says she was kicked out of the classroom for refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

Landry's mother, Kizzy, said that for months her daughter's act of civil disobedience drew little attention, but according to a lawsuit filed by Kizzy, India was summarily expelled October 2 by school officials who reportedly told her, "This isn't the National Football League".

In a meeting with the principal Thursday, Strother allegedly cited previous problems with the teenager - attendance issues, credit shortages and low grades - as underlying issues for her expulsion. However, she was immediately shown the door by school Principal Martha Strother on Monday while in her office after declining to stand for the Pledge. At Windfern High, students are required to stand during the oath, even if they opt not to recite it.

Landry is a senior at Windfern High School on Monday.

'They said you are kicked out of here, ' she told the newspaper. As such, it's easy to fall behind at the school, she said.

Kallinen said Landry and her daughter are seeking an undisclosed amount in damages for mental anguish. The assistant principal said India was going to stand for the pledge like other black students in her class, according to the suit.

Randall Kallinen, India's attorney, said in an email that the teen chose to sit for the pledge because "the flag does not represent liberty and justice".

It's something India has done for as long as she can remember.

It's never been a problem - until now.

The teen's mother said in her suit that the school administration had been "whipped into a frenzy" by the controversy over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Landry says she previously did not stand for the pledge for years without incident. She knows her decision.

The district issued a statement, saying, "A student will not be removed from campus for refusing to stand for the pledge". "I'm proud of her for standing up to what she believes in". The district said it is handling the situation internally.

The school district has a policy that if you don't say the Pledge of Allegiance, you still stand unless you have a note from your parents.

KHOU 11 has also reached out to civil rights attorney, Randall Kallinen, who says this is a violation of India's First Amendment right because the school is public and is treated like a government.