LAKELAND, Fla (CNN) – An 11-year-old student in Florida has been arrested following an argument with a substitute teacher over his refusal to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.
A sixth grader at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy was arrested and taken to a juvenile detention center, charged with disrupting a school function and resisting arrest without violence.
It’s a decision that’s not sitting well with the student’s mother, Dhakira Talbot, who says her son is in gifted classes and has been bullied at the school before.
“I’m upset, I’m angry, I’m hurt. Moreso for my son,” said Talbot. “My son has never been through anything like this, and I feel they should’ve handled this differently.”
The February 4 incident started when a substitute teacher asked the 11-year-old boy to stand up for the pledge. The student reportedly told the substitute teacher the flag was racist and that the national anthem was offensive to black people.
In a statement to the district, the substitute teacher reported asking the 11-year-old boy why if it was so bad here he did not go to another place to live.
The teacher says the student then said, “they brought me here.”
The substitute teacher says she said then she told him, ‘well you can always go back,’ because she was from Cuba and the day she felt unwelcome here, she’d find somewhere else to live.
“She was wrong,” said Talbot. “She was way out of place.”
The substitute teacher says she then called the office because she ‘didn’t want to continue dealing with him.’
According to the arrest affidavit, the student was arrested because he refused to follow multiple commands, repeatedly called school leaders racist and was disruptive.
Officials said the student threatened to get the school resource officer and principal fired and to beat the teacher, an accusation the student says is just not true.
“I want the charges dropped and I want the school to be held accountable,” said Talbot. “Because it shouldn’t have been handled the way it was handled.”
A spokeswoman with the school district said students aren’t required to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance, but the substitute teacher wasn’t aware of this. The spokeswoman said the substitute teacher will no longer be able to work at any of the district’s schools and the district is still looking into the matter.