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Lawton Chiles Middle Academy, Lakeland, Fla.

Florida middle school student arrested after refusing to stand for Pledge of Allegiance

11-year-old boy at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Lakeland has been charged with disrupting a school function and resisting arrest.

An 11-year-old middle student in Lakeland, Fla., was arrested earlier this month and charged with disrupting a school function and resisting arrest after he refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Lakeland Ledger reports that the sixth grader at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy was arrested Feb. 4 "after becoming disruptive and refusing to follow repeated instructions by school staff and law enforcement," Polk County district spokesman Kyle Kennedy says.

The student refused to stand for the Pledge, and also refused to stand after a substitute teacher ordered him to do so.

Kennedy asserted that the student was not arrested for refusing to participate in the pledge.

“Students are not required to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance,” Kennedy says.

The student reportedly told a substitute teacher that he didn’t want to stand and that “the flag is racist and the national anthem is offensive to black people.”

The teacher reportedly responded, “Why if it was so bad here he did not go to another place to live?”

Dhakira Talbot, the boy’s mother, told Bay News 9 that the teacher’s actions were inappropriate and that her son should not have been suspended.

Kennedy says the teacher in question will no longer serve as a substitute in Polk County Public Schools and that they will be reviewing their training policy with the outside agency that handles hiring substitute teachers.

“Our HR department will contact Kelly Services, which provides our substitutes, to further refine how our substitutes are trained,” Kennedy says.

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