An 11-year-old Florida boy was arrested and now faces charges after refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and creating a disturbance in the classroom on Feb. 4, police said.
According to USA Today, the sixth-grader from a Tampa suburb allegedly told his substitute teacher at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Lakeland that the flag is “racist” and the national anthem is offensive to black people, Bay News 9 reported. In response, the teacher asked him: “Why if it was so bad here he did not go to another place to live.”
He replied: “They brought me here.”
The substitute, Ana Alvarez, then suggested, “Well, you can always go back because I came here from Cuba and the day I feel I’m not welcome here anymore, I would find another place to live.”
Alvarez reportedly said she called the school’s office because she “did not want to continue dealing with him.” A school resource officer placed him under arrest for being non compliant and the child was taken to a juvenile detention center and suspended for three days.
“The student became disruptive and the teacher contacted school administrators for assistance,” Kyle Kennedy, a spokesman for Polk County Public Schools, told the news outlet. “The school’s resource deputy also became involved.”
Kennedy noted that students are not required to stand for the pledge, but Alvarez was apparently not aware of this. She will no longer be employed at any of Polk County’s schools, he added.
A Lakeland police spokesman confirmed the charges against the boy included disrupting a school function and resisting arrest without violence. He is also accused of threatening his substitute teacher, Patch reported.
The boy’s mother, Dhakira Talbot, has slammed the teacher and wants the charges against her dropped.
“She was wrong. She was way out of place,” she told Bay News 9. “If she felt like there was an issue with my son not standing for the flag, she should’ve resolved that in a way different manner than she did.”