Florida teacher removed from classroom over Pledge of Allegiance message to students

A high school teacher in Jacksonville, Florida, who allegedly wrote a message on a classroom board reprimanding students who don't stand for the Pledge of Allegiance has been removed from the classroom.

Duval County Public Schools said it learned of the teacher's statement Wednesday afternoon.

"The message included historical references including slavery, the right for women to vote and the election of a black president. It also referenced the fact that the superintendent of the school district is black. It was implied in the statement that students who fail to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance lack maturity," DCPS said in a news release.

The statements made by the teacher are not consistent with state statute or school board policy, DCPS said:

"Florida Statute 1003.44 and Board Policy 3.60 permit students to be excused from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, to include standing, if the student's parent or legal guardian files a written request with the school principal.  The ability for students to be excused is also included in the Code of Student Conduct.  Specifically, the statement below is included in the Code of Student Conduct:

•    Pursuant to Florida Statutes, students have the right not to participate in reciting the pledge. Upon written request by his or her parent, a student must be excused from reciting the pledge, including standing and placing the right hand over his or her heart."

The school has referred the matter to the district's Office of Professional Standards for review.

First Coast High School Principal Justin Fluent released the following statement:

"I believe classrooms provide the perfect place to have insightful and thought-provoking discussions about patriotic expressions and civil liberty. However, this must be done in a productive and respectful way, and in accordance with law and school board policy."

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