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Published: Wednesday, October 11, 2017 @ 1:53 PM
— The silent protest during the playing of the national anthem that started with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick has spread not only around the National Football League, but, lately, to high schools, middle schools and even elementary schools around the country.
Kaepernick began the protest – first sitting, then kneeling as the national anthem was being played – during pre-season play last year, saying he was doing it because he is bothered by police treatment of blacks in America.
While Kaepernick’s actions went unnoticed for the first few games, his protests eventually gained press coverage, and he was joined by other professional athletes in similar protests around the country.
The protests are now being mimicked by a younger audience, as public school officials in districts around the United States are seeing protests by students.
One recent protest was carried out by a six-year-old, and reports of protests and suspensions have grown in the past few weeks.
Earlier this month in Texas, a high school student was suspended for refusing to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance. The Windfern High School (Houston) student, India Landry, was told she had to stand for the pledge, and when she did not, she was told by the school’s principal that she was suspended.
Landry has filed suit against the school.
A Florida first-grader decided to take a knee during the Pledge of Allegiance in his classroom last month and was reprimanded in front of other students in the class, according to his mother.
The increase in incidents has led some to ask what right students have when it comes to displays of patriotism at school. Can students at a public school refuse to stand for the national anthem or sit through the pledge?
The Supreme Court ruled back in 1943 that students don’t have to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. Still the law. https://t.co/4YBGFzLMRi— ACLU (@ACLU) October 10, 2017
Yes, they can.
In 1943, the U.S. Supreme Court held in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, that forcing a student to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, then punishing them if they did not, violated First Amendment rights to free speech and the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The ruling came in a case brought by students who were Jehovah’s Witnesses. They argued that pledging allegiance to the United States would violate the tenets of their faith.
The Justices ruled that it did not matter if a person refused to recite the pledge because of religious beliefs or some other standard because no U.S. official could compel a person to “confess .. their faith” about anything.
Writing the majority opinion for the court, Justice Robert H. Jackson said, “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.”
So, if public schools cannot ban students from sitting or kneeling during the anthem or pledge, can they discipline them if they do protest?
No, they cannot, according to Frank LoMonte, the former executive director of the Student Press Law Center.
It does not matter if a student is part of a sports team or some other school group when he or she decides to protest, LoMonte told the website Education Week. Public institutions cannot withhold privileges when employees exercise free speech rights and that right extends to students.
"You can't condition a privilege on forsaking your constitutional right any more than you can condition a right or a benefit," LoMonte explained.
While some school districts have continued to tell students they must stand for the pledge or the anthem, others have made it clear they cannot ban such protests, nor will they punish students who do choose to protest by kneeling.
Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 1:41 AM
EUSTIS, Fla. — A young boy died of rabies after being scratched by a bat, according to Christian Academy school officials in Eustis, Florida.
The school posted about the boy’s death on its website, saying that he attended the school in 2016.
The post said Ryker Roque “was a quiet boy adored by teachers and classmates.”
Henry Roque, Ryker's father, took a video of the two on a fishing trip and said they were as close as father and son could be.
He shared pictures and videos of his son with WFTV to share with the world how much he loved his son.
As Ryker underwent an experimental procedure for the rabies infection, Henry held out hope, even as doctors told the family he had virtually no chance of surviving.
"I've seen huge miracles before. And I went back on the bed and laid with him and held him and said, 'Ryker, miracles happen every day. I know you hear me,'" Henry said.
Several weeks ago, Henry said he found a sick bat, which he did not know had rabies, and put it in a bucket, telling Ryker not to touch it.
But Ryker did touch it and was scratched by the bat – but seemed fine, school officials said.
A week later, the child lost use of his legs and “experienced confusion,” having hallucinations and convulsions.
Ryker was hospitalized and an experimental treatment was used, but he died Sunday.
The school held a fundraiser to help the family with medical expenses.
"He was a very sweet boy. Everything he did was nice. The kids loved to play with him because he was the kindest kid," said Connor Jenkins, with the Christian Academy preschool.
Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 1:13 AM
DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Incredible video captured firefighters rescuing a child from a burning building in DeKalb County, Georgia.
The helmet camera video, posted by DeKalb County Fire and Rescue, was taken at the Avondale Forest Apartments on Jan. 3.
The video shows a person on top of a ladder drop a child down to a firefighter as the flames roar around them.
The firefighter catches the child and quickly runs to safety.
"Third-generation DCFR firefighter Capt. Scott Stroup can be seen catching one of the children that was dropped from the third-floor balcony. Great job by all hands operating on this fire as several lifesaving grabs were made that night," the department posted on Facebook.
An estimated 50 people were left without a place to live after the massive fire at the Decatur apartment complex.
Capt. Eric Jackson, with DeKalb County Fire and Rescue, told WSB-TV that four adults and eight children were hurt in the fire.
He said their injuries were minor and mostly related to smoke inhalation.
Firefighters kicked in doors and ushered out residents when they arrived on the scene, Jackson said.
One of the victims told WSB-TV's Steve Gehlbach hearing the screams coming from the people trapped was the most frightening part of the fire for them.
Published: Monday, January 15, 2018 @ 9:59 AM
PITTSBURGH — There was a slight scare ahead of Sunday’s Steelers game at Heinz Field after police arrested a man who allegedly threatened to kill players and fans at the game.
Authorities arrested Yuttana Choochongkol, 40, who is from San Antonio, in Texas.
Investigators said the man made several threats online, sending them to the director of security at Heinz Field.
“The Steelers game will be packed, and that's when I plan on killing Steelers football players and fans before taking my own pitiful life," Choochongkol wrote.
The Steelers issued a statement regarding the threats.
Published: Monday, January 15, 2018 @ 12:08 PM
ALEXANDRIA, La. — A postal worker pleaded guilty Friday to burning at least 20 tubs of mail at his home over the course of six months, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
Mark Wayne Thompson, 50, pleaded guilty to use of delay or destruction of mail by a postal employee.
Thompson took mail from his rural route in Elmer to his home to burn from Dec. 1, 2016, to May 1, 2017, according to officials.