LAKELAND, Florida -- An 11-year-old boy in Florida refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and ended up getting arrested over it, and now, his mother is demanding the charges be dropped.
The sixth grader at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Lakeland was arrested and taken to a juvenile detention center, charged with disrupting a school function and resisting arrest without violence.
The decision to have him arrested is 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," she said. "I'm angry. I'm hurt. Moreso for my son. 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 boy to stand up for the pledge. He reportedly told her that the flag was racist and the national anthem was offensive to black people.
In a statement to the district, the substitute teacher reported asking the boy why, if it was so bad here, did he not go to another place to live?
She said he then said, "They brought me here," and she replied, "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," Talbot said. "She was way out of place."
The substitute teacher then wrote that she 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.
They said he threatened to get the school resource officer and principal fired and to beat the teacher, an accusation he says is just not true.
"I want the charges dropped, and I want the school to be held accountable and the officer for what happened," Talbot said. "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 that. 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.
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11-year-old arrested in Florida after not reciting Pledge of Allegiance