Brownsville, PA School Drops Disciplinary Action Against Girl Who Refused to Stand for Pledge After ACLU Lawsuit

Students recite the pledge of allegiance

Pennsylvania’s Brownsville Area School District has capitulated to the ACLU after being sued for disciplining a 13-year old girl who, according to reports, steadfastly refused to stand for the pledge of allegiance.

The New York Daily News elaborates:

The eighth-grade girl wasn’t looking for controversy when she stopped standing for the pledge, said her mother, Carolyn Raja. Far from it.

“She’s actually very introverted and doesn’t like to be the center of attention,” said Ms. Raja, a jewelry maker whose family recently moved to the Fayette County borough of Brownsville. “She is just concerned with the state of the country today.”

According to the complaint, the girl referred to in the lawsuit only by the initials N.B. sat through the pledge without incident for most of the year, until April 17, when teacher Jessica VanMeter took exception to it. The teacher “admonished” the student “with references to her disrespect for all the soldiers dying for her overseas,” the complaint said.

The student didn’t back down, and she was subjected to steadily escalating discipline, including lunch detention and in-school suspensions.

Ms. Raja’s entreaties to middle school Principal Vincent Nesser, Superintendent Phillip Savini and the school board didn’t end the discipline, according to the complaint. Nor did several warnings from the ACLU.

The lawsuit, apparently, has changed things.

According to a school representative, school officials may not be happy about the conclusion, but they must abide by what the Supreme Court determined nearly 70 years ago that “no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”

This has been interpreted to mean that no one can force an individual to, for instance, stand for the pledge of allegiance.

“The student is in school today and chose not to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance,” related James Davis, the district’s solicitor.  She was not disciplined for the decision and, he explained, has a “constitutionally protected right” to remain seated.

“Not everyone is happy with your decision not to move forward, frankly, with any discipline in this case, Fox’s Alisyn Camerota noted.

“What message does that send to other students about respecting our country?”