A Delaware high school under fire for allegedly threatening to punish a student who refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance is giving in following accusations from an atheist group.
The atheist group the American Humanist Association said a high school senior reached out after his teacher threatened him with punishment in front of the class for sitting out the Pledge of Allegiance.
The AHA then sent a letter to the New Castle County Vocational-Technical School District citing a 1943 Supreme Court ruling, which gives students the right to sit out the pledge.
“After class, [the teacher] admonished the student, telling him that he is required to stand up during the Pledge and that it is ‘disrespectful’ to remain seated,” AHA said in the letter. “She threatened the student with punishment if he remained seated again. Afterwards, [the teacher] approached the student in the hallway, in front of his peers, to tell the student publicly that he was disrespectful to her and to his fellow classmates for remaining seated. The student was understandably humiliated by his teacher’s actions in singling him out for exercising his constitutional rights.”
The school responded the AHA in an email, saying no punishment was given to the student and that the pledge is optional.
“No effort is being made to persuade students to refrain from exercising their respective right to opt out, and no discipline has been, or will be, administered for opting out of the pledge,” the school responded.
This is not the first time the AHA is battling over the pledge of allegiance and its presence in society. The organization has been particularly outspoken about the phrase ”under god.”
“Some students object to the Pledge for personal, political or religious reasons, such as the inclusion of the phrase ‘under God’ in the Pledge,” Monica Miller, senior counsel with the AHA’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center, said in a statement. “But regardless of the reason, students must be permitted to opt out of the Pledge as a matter of freedom of speech and conscience.”