A teacher in the Fairfax County (Va.) district who allegedly disciplined a high school student for refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance will not be returning to the classroom, district administrators say.
The Washington Post reports that the student, Eric Trammel, a sophomore at Centreville High in Clifton, Va., reported the incident to school officials. Trammel says the teacher yelled for him to stand and then yanked him from his seat when he wouldn’t.
The district says the teacher's action violated district policy.
“The incident at Centreville High School is unacceptable behavior by a classroom instructor and directly violates an existing and long-standing policy,” Fairfax Superintendent Scott Brabrand said in a statement.
Employees in the Fairfax County Public Schools are forbidden from disciplining students who do not participate in the pledge. District policy says that students who abstain are expected to sit or stand quietly.
Trammel identified the teacher as Richard Ferrick. An attorney for Ferrick, James K. Freeman, says the “allegations are without merit,” but declined further comment. The district would not comment on the teacher's employment status.
Trammel says that for more than a year at school, he has remained seated when a class recited the Pledge. But in a class last month, Ferrick ordered the 15-year-old to rise, and when he refused, Ferrick pulled Trammel by the arm and sent him outside, Trammel says.
The student says he hasn’t stood for the Pledge of Allegiance since encountering the Black Lives Matter movement on Twitter when he was in eighth grade. He says it is his way of drawing attention to unequal racial treatment and other forms of inequality.
After being thrown out of class, Trammel said he spent 20 minutes outside in the cold before knocking and asking Ferrick if he could return. The teacher allegedly refused unless Trammel agreed to stand for the pledge.
School administrators intervened, and Trammel was able to return to class. Trammel says the teacher later told him "that our relationship had drastically changed, that what he thought of me was different. He also moved me to the back of the classroom.”