LAKELAND, Fla. – A middle school student in Central Florida was arrested this month after the 11-year-old boy disrupted class by refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, according to local media reports.
The incident happened on Feb. 4 at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Lakeland.
Kyle Kennedy, a spokesman for Polk County Public Schools, told the Ledger newspaper that the sixth-grader "was arrested after becoming disruptive and refusing to follow repeated instructions by school staff and law enforcement."
The district said the boy was not arrested because he wouldn't participate in the pledge. The students are not required to participate. Police said the boy threatened the teacher.
Local TV station Bay News 9 reported that the student told his substitute teacher "the flag is racist and the national anthem is offensive to black people."
When the boy refused to participate, the teacher asked the boy if the United States was so bad, why he didn’t find "another place to live." The boy reportedly replied: "They brought me here."
Kennedy said the teacher was not aware of the district's policy regarding the pledge and is no longer a substitute teacher with the county.
"I'm upset, I'm angry. I'm hurt," Dhakira Talbot, the student's mother, told the station. "If any disciplinary action should've been taken, it should've been with the school. He shouldn’t have been arrested."