Montgomery student: I was sent to office for refusing to stand for Pledge of Allegiance

A Damascus High School student says she was “harassed and intimidated by teachers and an assistant principal for refusing to stand” during the Pledge of Allegiance.

Tenth-grader Enidris Siurano-Rodriguez said she was sent to the assistant principal’s office on April 4 for not taking part in the Pledge of Allegiance, according to the ACLU of Maryland, which is representing the family.

Siurano-Rodriguez’s biology teacher asked her to stand during the Pledge, but the student had been sitting “as a way of showing her disagreement with the United States government policies toward Puerto Rico,” where her family is from, said an ACLU media release.

Montgomery County schools spokesman Dana Tofig said school officials have received the letter, which was sent Tuesday, and will look into the matter.

“Our schools do recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the day, but students are not required to stand or participate,” Tofig said.

A 1943 U.S. Supreme Court decision and Maryland state law say public schools cannot force students to salute the flag.

The ACLU has asked for meetings with the superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools and high school administrators to discuss the matter and “ensure that violations do not keep recurring.”

This is not the first time Montgomery County schools have received complaints from parents and the ACLU over a student’s right to sit out the Pledge. In 2010, the district made a Roberto Clemente Middle School teacher apologize to a student after school security officers escorted the 13-year-old out of class for not standing.

The ACLU said it has received similar complaints from Montgomery County parents in previous years since 2008.

Lynh Bui is a Prince George's County public safety reporter and former Montgomery County education reporter.

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