Texas’s most senior law enforcement officer is siding with a school district that expelled a student who refused to stand for the pledge of allegiance.
Ken Paxton, the attorney general of the Lone Star State, publicly backed the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, which is being sued by 18-year-old India Landry and her mother.
‘School children cannot unilaterally refuse to participate in the pledge,’ Paxton said in a news release on Tuesday.
‘The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that parents have a fundamental interest in guiding the education and upbringing of their children, which is a critical aspect of liberty guaranteed by the Constitution.’
Ken Paxton, the Texas Attorney General, publicly backed the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, which is being sued by 18-year-old India Landry and her mother
Last year, Landry was kicked out of her classroom at Windfern High School in Houston when she sat through the daily pledge of allegiance.
Even though she says she sat through the pledge hundreds of times, the school district decided to punish her.
Landry said her decision to sit was to stage a protest against police brutality and President Donald Trump.
‘They said you are kicked out of here,’ she told the New York Daily News last year. ‘The other woman said this isn’t the NFL, you won’t do this here.’
The public school district did not comment on what had actually happened in the classroom, but said in a statement: ‘A student will not be removed from campus for refusing to stand for the Pledge. We will address this situation internally.’
The lawsuit against the Cypress Fairbanks ISD claims that administrators had been ‘whipped into a frenzy’ by the recent controversy over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.
‘Students cannot be instantly expelled except for being a danger,’ the suit states.
Landry was forced to leave Windfern and enrolled in another school.
Her lawyer, Randall L. Kallinen, accused Paxton of exploiting a civil rights case in order to score political points just before a crucial midterm election.
Last year, Landry was kicked out of her classroom at Windfern High School in Houston when she sat through the daily pledge of allegiance. Even though she says she sat through the pledge hundreds of times, the school district decided to punish her
‘The reason he’s challenging this case is that it’s election time,’ Kallinen told the Houston Chronicle.
‘It’s an attempt to rally the troops.’
Kallinen says that the lawsuit will cite the 1943 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette.
The decision said that public school students were not required to salute the flag or say the pledge of allegiance.
According to the lawsuit, the school principal, vice principal, secretary, and two teachers violated Landry’s rights to free speech, equal protection, and due process.
They are also accused in the lawsuit of singling out Landry because she is black.
Paxton claims the school district acted properly because students are required to stand for the pledge unless their parents write a letter stating otherwise.
The attorney general says that standing for the pledge is a ‘time-honored tradition’ and that the school district is entitled to take steps to ensure the status of ‘the national flag as an unalloyed symbol of our country.’
‘The United States flag represents the values of liberty and justice that form the foundation of this country and are defended by our armed forces,’ according to Paxton’s court filing.
Landry was forced to leave Windfern (seen above) and enrolled in another school. Her lawyer, Randall L. Kallinen, accused Paxton of exploiting a civil rights case in order to score political points just before a crucial midterm election
‘It is thus deserving of the highest levels of reverence and respect, which is expressed through every recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.’
Civil libertarian groups were outraged by Paxton’s filing, accusing the attorney general of stoking racial tension.
‘His decision, as usual, is rooted in racism and a need to maintain some control of a person’s personal autonomy,’ said Ashton Woods of Black Lives Matter Houston.
Andre Segura, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, said students are within their rights to sit for the pledge.
‘Once again, it appears that Ken Paxton is using his authority to foster division within our state through political posturing,’ Segura said.
‘Schools are meant to be a marketplace of ideas where students do not shed their First Amendment rights.’