A 17-year-old student at a Houston-area high school was kicked out for refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. India Landry has kept her seat in class during the Pledge for a year and a half at Windfern High School with no problems. But on Monday, she was in the principal’s office.
When India refused to comply with Principal Martha Strother’s demand to stand up, India was immediately expelled.
“And then the pledge came on, and they both stood, and I didn’t,” Landry said as reported by KHOU. “[The principal] asked me to, and I said I wouldn’t. And then she said, ‘Well, you’re kicked out of here.'”
Landry told the New York Daily News that another woman who was in the office during the incident told her that she was not in the NFL remarking, “you won’t do this here.”
Strother Threatened To Call Police
The Landry family has retained civil rights attorney Randall Kallinen who is filing a federal lawsuit on India’s behalf. Not only did Strother violate the student’s First Amendment rights by expelling her until Friday, she threatened to call the police if her mother was not at the school to pick her up in five minutes. Landry was shocked by the threat.
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“I was actually terrified, I see what’s going on with the country,” Kizzy told the New York Daily News. “That scared the hell out of me. I thought, let me hurry up and get to my baby before something happens to her.”
The lawsuit filed against Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District asserts that teachers, staff, and administrators can neither force students to stand for the Pledge nor can they expel students for choosing to sit. Attorney Kallinen says that Strother is guilty of both. She stonewalled for several days and finally agreed to meet with Kizzy on Thursday morning. Strother reiterated that the only way India could return to school was if she stood for the pledge.
According to the lawsuit, an interview with KHOU News changed things. On Thursday, Kizzy and India shared the injustice and their story aired on the evening news. The story apparently got the attention of Strother’s superiors. Kizzy was notified by Strother on Friday morning at about 8:41 a.m. that India could return to school. She would not have to stand for the pledge going forward. India was back in class by 10:30 a.m. on Friday.
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What Happens Now?
Personnel matters are usually handled confidentially, but school district representative Nicole Ray confirmed in a statement that “a student will not be removed from campus for refusing to stand for the pledge.” She added that the matter will be handled internally.
As for India, she plans to continue sitting during the Pledge starting on Monday. The teen is firm in her convictions and doesn’t believe that what’s going on in America is indicative of what the flag is supposed to represent. Police brutality and the Trump presidency do not translate into “liberty and justice and all that.” India also has the support of her family.
“I never told her to do this,” Kizzy said. “I’m proud of her for standing up to what she believes in She said she hopes it just brings awareness of what is going on.”