Fairfax County teacher removed after disciplining student who refused to stand for pledge

(Associated Press file photo)

CENTREVILLE, Va. (AP) -- Officials with a Virginia school district say a teacher who allegedly disciplined a high school student for refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance will not be returning to the classroom.

The superintendent for Fairfax County schools says the Centreville High School teacher breached system rules in ordering 15-year-old Eric Trammel out of the classroom for not standing for the pledge last month.

The Washington Post reports that an attorney for teacher Richard Ferrick said in an email that the allegations against his client are without merit.

According to district policy, Fairfax County school employees are prohibited from disciplining students who do not participate in the pledge.

Trammel says he hasn't stood for the pledge since encountering the Black Lives Matter movement on Twitter during the eighth grade.

Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand issued the following statement:

The incident at Centreville High School is unacceptable behavior by a classroom instructor and directly violates an existing and long-standing FCPS policy (Policy 1352). Following a thorough investigation by my office, the teacher in question will not be returning to an FCPS school. FCPS has apologized to the student and the student’s family for the incident.
The policy is very clear. It states, in part, “…no student shall be subjected to unfavorable comment or stigmatization of his or her decision to participate or abstain from the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Nonparticipating students are expected to sit quietly, or to stand silently if they want, during the Pledge and to engage in no disrupting or distracting activity. No disciplinary sanction may be imposed for refusal to participate in saying the Pledge; however, willful disruption or interference with the exercise of pledging allegiance by others may result in the same disciplinary measures accorded to other instances of classroom disruption in school.”
At my direction, a reminder of this policy was sent earlier this school year to all principals and a reminder of the policy was sent to all FCPS staff earlier this week. For your awareness, we have had instances in which other students in other schools have chosen not to participate in the Pledge and, in each case, the classroom teacher and school administration have followed the policy and responded in an appropriate manner.
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